In this digital age, nearly all aspects of the job hunt have become electronic. Most jobs can be applied for online, and a big part of reaching out to recruiters is sending your resume through email. Including a cover letter may seem like an outdated notion, but it remains a crucial part of your candidate profile.
While some hiring managers and recruiters ignore the cover letter, there are still many that care enough to read it thoroughly in order to get a feel for your personality and competence. Therefore, it is in your best interest to take care in crafting an attention-grabbing, powerful letter to sell yourself and your skills. There are several reasons why it's still important to use a good cover letter when applying for jobs.
First, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to expand upon what your resume says. Since there's no need to stick to a timeline like your resume does, you can focus on your most relevant skills and achievements, and discuss them in any order you like. You can also use your cover letter to explain gaps in your employment, marry your skill set with what the potential employer is looking for, or showcase your knowledge of the company. In general, your cover letter is your chance to take the hard information from your resume and tell a story with it. This is especially useful when you're applying to different companies across different industries; it is time-consuming and inefficient to create a customized resume for each and every job you apply for. The cover letter offers a level of flexibility that helps your resume stretch across different avenues.
Another reason the cover letter is important is that it speaks directly to the individual who reads it. An emailed resume can quickly be scanned and discarded, but a cover letter addressed to a specific recipient is much harder to ignore. It's more personal. Hiring managers receive dozens or even hundreds of resumes per day, many of them lacking a cover letter. Simply by including one, you set yourself apart from your competition. Taking it a step further by including information about the company or the position you're applying for showcases you as a true professional who pays attention to details.
While a cover letter can open doors for you, it's important to make sure you send the right message. Pay particular attention to your spelling and grammar, as one mistake could propel your whole application into the trash bin. It's worth the effort to have a friend or colleague review your cover letter for errors. In addition to looking for spelling and grammar mistakes, ask for feedback on the wording you used, to be sure you're conveying an effective and persuasive message. Your cover letter could make or break your application, so it's important to craft the best one possible when applying for jobs in any industry.
As job searches become more competitive and more technical in every industry, it is increasingly imperative to set yourself apart from the pack. A clearly worded, concise and compelling cover letter will give your resume wings, and it can truly be the piece of the puzzle that lands you a new professional position.
Photo courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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