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Value of a Good Cover Letter
Have you felt during your job search that it was a complete waste of time to prepare a cover letter for submission with your resume? Then this is a must read article for you. William Mitchell, Certified Resume Professional and owner of The Resume Clinic, details how the effort to create a quality cover letter can be the difference in landing the job of your dreams and toiling away in job hunt Purgatory.
We all agree on the fact that a resume is a very important part of your career search arsenal. After all, how else would you be able to communicate to a prospective employer your valuable industry / professional experience, training, and accomplishments? But what about our friend the cover letter? Resume clients often question the need for this under-appreciated tool, completely unaware of its value as a complimentary marketing strategy. Allow Me To Introduce Myself ... As the saying goes, first impressions are lasting ones. A well written cover letter acts as an introductory handshake for your resume, and by extension, for you. When you send a resume without a cover letter, you essentially begin holding a conversation without context. Ever had a friend who began a conversation in the middle, leaving you wondering what they were talking about? Your cover letter places the "conversation" into the proper context, communicating to a potential employer the position in which you are applying, and whether you are applying for a posted opening or sending a cold communication. Here's What My Resume Doesn't Say ... Think of your resume as an objective "just the facts" document that primarily details the verifiable, tangible skill set that you bring to the table to satisfy the core requirements of the available position. What your cover letter allows you to do is communicate the all of the intangibles that you won't be able to address in your resume. This is where you tell the reviewer about your soft skills, penchant for attention to detail, and willingness to devote the extra time necessary to complete assigned projects on time. Yes, you can usually touch upon one or two of these intangibles in your resume, but any more than that and you run the risk of your resume coming off as fluff and loaded with filler. The ability to cover these peripheral skills gives your strict and fact-packed resume personality. Where Else Can You Close The Sale? When you are seeking employment, you are marketing yourself in the best possible light. Your resume brilliantly conveys everything you have to offer to the position and the company as a whole. But the key to "selling" any product with consistency is providing for the buyer a call to action. Employers with job openings are like consumers looking to buy you (or your competition) as a product to fill a need within the organization. The cover letter is the vehicle you need to ask for the sale, or in this case, the interview. A good closing paragraph will reiterate your desire to help the organization accomplish their goals, and request an interview to further examine how the employer can benefit from your integration into the team. We've all heard the saying "Ask and you shall receive." This isn't the time to be shy. The product that doesn't ask to be bought ... usually isn't. Optional No More There was a time when the cover letter was considered an optional document, but not anymore. Some employers consider it a breach of application etiquette to submit your resume without an accompanying cover letter. It is now "understood" that a cover letter is to accompany the resume, even if the job posting does not specifically request one. Remember, your job search documents are usually up against those of dozens of other applicants for consideration. To beat out everyone else in the race, one must pay attention to detail and use every tool available to their advantage to outshine and outlast the competition. The cover letter is an integral cog in the wheel that keeps your career rolling along. Let's face it, if you make the mistake of applying for that great position without a cover letter that properly introduces you, communicates your intangibles, and asks for the interview, you are likely to be up against competition who will take the time to do so. And just how do you think your submission will stack up against theirs?