Contrary to the occasional rant about them, cover letters never go out of style. In fact, they should be considered one of the most important elements of the job seeking process. Unlike the resume, a rather cut and dried dissertation on your experience and training, the cover letter is your chance to convey more than simple experience. Understanding the important areas that need to be covered in a cover letter and the importance of creating unique letters for specific positions will allow you to take advantage of the strengths of the cover letter.
First, recognize the importance of appropriate formatting. Cover letters that are too long will quickly lose the interest of the reader while those that are too short will not convey the necessary information. Instead, be cognizant of the length and format of each letter. Each cover letter should be no less than three paragraphs long and no more than one page long. Not only is this length considered correct, it will allow you to appropriately address important areas adequately.
It Isn’t Your Resume
It is a mistake to simply use the cover letter to restate the facts that appear on a resume. Instead, the letter should be used to build interest-telling a little more about yourself and what you bring to the reader. An effective way to build interest is by expounding on an accomplishment that can be found in your resume. Instead of simply restating the accomplishment, give the prospective employer more details – details that will build interest in you.
Many make the mistake of creating a generalized letter. Addressing the letter to the HR Department, utilizing generic job names and including general examples is a patently bad idea. Instead, take the time and do some research. Even if you are sending a resume and cover letter to be filed for a later position, it is critical that it be addressed to the specific person in charge of hiring for that position. Each resume that is sent out should include a letter that is specific for a particular job offering.
When concluding your letter, be sure to include your next step. You may want to inform the reader that you will call to confirm receipt in a week or let them know you will call to ensure they have all the information they need. Including a follow-up action is the best way to ensure that your resume will be flagged for follow-up by the reader.
Cover letters are a good idea almost any time you are submitting your resume for review. There are a few distinct cases when a cover letter is not required.
1.When the potential employer requests no cover letter be sent.
2.When working with a headhunter.
3.When using resumes at a job fair.
It is important that each cover letter be written with a specific job in mind. Carefully read and review not only job postings, but also any information that is available regarding the company to which you are applying. Doing so will allow you to craft a more effective letter – one that is more likely to generate a call back. You can tweak your main cover letter for different positions. Be sure and save each version with a different title so you can easily pull it up when a similar job position opens up.
Guest Post by: Erin Kennedy, CPRW, CERW, BS/HR, is a Certified Professional & Executive Resume Writer/Career Consultant and President of Professional Resume Services, Inc. She is a nationally published writer and contributor of 9+ best-selling career books. She has achieved international recognition following yearly nominations of the prestigious T.O.R.I. (Toast of the Resume Industry) Award. Erin has written thousands of resumes for executives and professionals. As a proud member of PARW, CDI, AORCP, Erin also sits on CDI’s Credentialing Committee for new certification candidates and serves as a Mentor for CDI’s Member Mentoring Committee. She also is a featured blogger on several well-known career sites. www.exclusive-executive-resumes.com.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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