Answer: Anyone who sends out resumes needs resume cover letters! Even though the issue of a covering letter was not mentioned in conversation, or it wasn’t specified in the ad.
It will be considered a sign of laziness or apathy, to send a resume letter that is not customized to the specific organization you are applying to.
But doesn’t it add more anxiety to the already stressful process of looking for a job? Of course it does! But the upside is, your personalized letters give you an opportunity to highlight the things you can contribute to the particular organization in a way your resume cannot. The cover letter is your ‘Sales Page,’ so to speak. YOU are the ‘product you’re selling.’
Many employers are reporting dozens, even hundreds of applicants for every single job opening. With current 10%+ unemployment rates, and relatively few available jobs, there is a tremendous amount of competition out there for every opening. And this just as true with a small, local 3 or 4 person office as it is with huge multi-national corporations.
When the hiring person is almost literally drowning in applications, they do not have time to read every word of every resume. This is where your resume letters come in. Oftentimes, the hiring person scans the cover letter first. If nothing in that letter catches their attention, chances are the actual resume will never get read. So your perfect, beautiful, well thought out and well-written resume ends up in the trash, having never even been looked at.
The main purpose of resume cover letters is to answer the employer’s question: “What can this applicant do for our business?” It is hard to directly answer this question in the resume, which is a formal listing of jobs, duties, experience, training and accomplishments. Your properly crafted cover letter can answer that question in a very straightforward manner.
You should create a new cover letter with every resume you send out, customized to the particular position and company you are applying to. A basic, generic letter will not get you interviews. At all costs, avoid the “blah, blah, blah…please find my resume attached,” format. Employers are looking for knowledge, excitement and focus. If you do not communicate those qualities in your letters, your odds of getting called for an interview fall somewhere between zilch and zero!
A few tips on other issues that can make or break your resume letters, include:
Misspellings or typos: Ask at least a couple of people to review your letter before you send it, watching carefully for mistakes and grammatical flow. (Does it sound right when read out loud?)
Improperly Addressed: Whenever possible the letter should be addressed to a specific individual. If no name is given in the ad, try networking or research to try to find out the name. If that is impossible, just start the letter without a “Dear so-and-so.”
Writing as though you don’t have a clue who they are or what they’re about: If you don’t already know these things, do some research before writing the letter. Visit their website, if they have one. If not, ask around. See if somebody knows somebody that works there, which can give you a heads up.
Now go to Winning Resume Coverletters for more great information about writing eye-catching, Interview Getting, cover letters! Give yourself the competitive edge in your job search!
Author: Kathi Harris