The number one question I get asked that is not strictly resume related is, “Do I need a cover letter; is it really necessary?”
YES. YES. YES!
So first things first, we know that a resume is obviously the most important document needed for a job search and to get job interviews, but a cover letter is almost always required by employers.
So do you need one? Most likely. Is it necessary? Absolutely.
Cover letters should never just be a repeat of your resume in a shorter form. Leave your resume the place to market yourself, including experience, and your great qualities and notables… This is your opportunity to tell the recruiters and employer what you can do for the company, and why you want to work for them.
You should also bring out and highlight all of the great accomplishments you have achieved over your career. But what do you do if you are new to your industry or a recent college grad and do not have those accomplishments for your field yet?
Bring out all of the great things you have done. Have you volunteered? How did that help?
Are you a new grad or do you have a recent degree that will now help you in this new position? Bring up those things as well in your cover letter.
How do you write a cover letter?
1. First, include your contact information. 2. Introduce your background, not your name. Don’t forget to say what position you want. 3. Now, go sell yourself. Don’t be afraid to show numbers that brought results. 4. Conclude the resume by stating your interest in the position.
So what you can you do to help make the task of writing your cover letter easy?
Do the research.
Find out about the employer, the position and as much as you can about their company values before writing the letter. Anything you can directly discuss, even just name dropping, or reiterating their core company values will give you a thousand brownie points with the recruiters.
Engage the reader.
How do you engage the reader when they read countless cover letters and resumes every single day? Utilize their own phraseology…aka, the details in the job description. They have told you what they want in a candidate – now speak it back to them.
Show them you are dedicated.
Not only should you do the research and write to them to show you match up with their needs, you should also show that your personality and goals in your career align with their company culture, and reiterate that they are your company of choice. This will also help sell you as you will look like the perfect fit for the company.
Things you shouldn’t include in a cover letter?
Never apologize for skills you do not have.
So many people write in the cover letter that they only have limited experience. This just comes over negative. And while I am all about being transparent and accepting your weaknesses, it simply won’t sell you. Focus on the good stuff, your strengths, and transferable skills.
Your cover letter should show enthusiasm for this position and what you have to offer the company.
Formal is for robots.
Do not be overly formal in your cover letter. Be the friendly person you are. Anything more than that will make you seem insincere.
Oh, and one final thing, never tell the company what it can do for you.
(And this goes for your resume and the cover letter.)
The #1 fatal mistake is saying something like, I want to work for you to grow my knowledge and move ahead in my career. How is this about the company? It is not. It is not company focused and that is what you need to make sure to do. It is all about them.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be.
Just focus on these few points as you start to write your cover letter:
Tell the employer why they should hire you.
Highlight all of your strengths and qualifications.
Explain how much you want the job and be sure to follow up.
Ultimately, you want a cover letter to work magic and the resume to seal the deal to get you an interview. Do your due diligence to learn who will be reading this, focus on the company and why you will benefit them as an employee and be confident, classic and polished.
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