Back in my finance days I did a lot of hiring. When I went to a start up it lessened but was a much more critical task. When hiring an office manager I must have received several hundred resumes. I barely looked at the ones that did not have cover letters.
I will never forget reading the cover letter of the woman we eventually hired. After reading it, I walked straight to the CEO’s office and said, “I found her!” I knew from the cover letter which is why I still say, even if an email – it is a critical part of your application.
Cover letters are a great way to provide information that is not otherwise apparent or appropriate in a résumé and can make the difference between someone selecting you or the other candidate. Use them to make it easier for the reviewer to say yes to your application. Write simply and clearly, keep the letter targeted on the job, and complement the information contained in your résumé and why the job is a fit.
Use the opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the job and the company. Include a cover letter when sending your résumé directly to a hiring manager, human resources department, or someone with whom you are networking. The only time it isn’t always necessary is when submitting your résumé to a recruiter.
Here are some tips:
- Have someone whose writing skills you respect proofread the letter for spelling, grammar, and overall content. If there are typos and poor grammar in the cover letter, your résumé will be pushed aside.
- This is the place, as opposed to the résumé, to show a little individuality. Feel free to get a bit creative and even show a sense of humor (in good taste).
- A cover letter is your 15-second elevator pitch. You need to quickly capture the attention of your audience so that they’ll invite you in or at least continue on to read your résumé. Include keywords, phrases, and skills from the job description. Use bold and italics to highlight keywords or phrases so they quickly stand out.
We doubt the importance of cover letters, but I fully believe in their importance. Even if you aren’t fully sold, remember that it’s not your opinion that you need to consider, but instead the view of the interviewer that counts. Add the cover letter and you’ll be surprised by how many callbacks you get.