Cover Letters Are Still Important

Some people believe that cover letters are irrelevant in finding a job.

I disagree.

Used properly, a cover letter can improve the probability of landing an interview. 

First, I will agree that in some submission formats today – online applications – there may be no possibility of including a cover letter.  But there are still plenty of times when a cover letter is allowed or encouraged.

Managers Like Cover Letters

An OfficeTeam survey recently found that “Cover Letters Still Popular in Hiring Process”.

More than three in four (78 per cent) executives polled said cover letters are valuable when evaluating job candidates. In addition, nearly eight in 10 (79 per cent) respondents indicated it’s common to receive cover letters even when applicants submit resumes electronically.

“Although the job application process has increasingly moved online, the importance of a cover letter shouldn’t be underestimated,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “It often is the first opportunity to make a positive impression on hiring managers. It’s also a chance to provide context for your resume, expand on key accomplishments and explain reasons for employment gaps or career changes.”

80% of executives find value in reviewing cover letters when assessing job applicants.

So get them right. Avoid submitting a terrible cover letter.

My Thoughts?

Mr. Hosking hits the nail on its head. Use a cover letter to provide focus and context to your resume.

Focus

Within a standard two page resume it is often difficult to clearly link your skills and experiences to the requested job qualifications.

Your cover letter should direct the reviewer to each relevant item. Make certain the reviewer is able to find the item on your resume and then connect it to the requested qualification.

Do not make the reader work. Direct them to the right area.

Elaborate

Perhaps the job requirements state that the company requires a professional accountant with significant experience in the mining sector.

You could put in your cover letter, “While at Jones Accountants, both personally and while managing 5 person teams, I audited and prepared tax returns for 4 publicly traded mining companies. I also worked on public offering documents for 3 other mining firms. Additionally, 40% of Dow International revenues relate to gold and silver mining. As Controller, I strengthened my accounting and finance knowledge in these areas. I also developed a strong business understanding by working closely with operational staff.

By so doing, you draw attention to sections in your resume relevant to the job requirements. You also clarify any uncertainty that may exist for the reader between your experience and the available position.

Context

Have a 3 year gap in your history?

You can use the cover letter to fill in any gaps.

Reviewers do not like guessing. They hate gaps, missing information, lack of clarity, uncertainty. Rather than guess, the reader may just move on to the next resume.

Assess your resume against the job application for areas of potential confusion.

Then use the cover letter to fill in the blanks.

Use your cover letter to direct the reader to the salient sections of your resume. Then expand on those key points and address any areas of weakness or gaps in your skills and experience.

If you do this, you increase the odds of getting to the interview phase.

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