||Top Ten Reasons Why You Need a Cover Letter
Your cover letter presents your intentions, qualifications, and availability to
a prospective employer in a succinct, appealing format. It's your first chance
to make a great impression, a personalized letter indicates you are serious
about your job search. Your resume can give the nitty-gritty of dates, places of
employment, and education but your cover letter must entice the reader to take
the extra few minutes to consider you when faced with hundreds and thousands of
candidates for any one job opening.
1. Do you
really need a cover letter?
You bet! Just as you would never just show
up unannounced at a prospective employer's door, your resume should Never just
appear solo on a decision- maker's desk. Your cover letter is your first
opportunity to introduce yourself, present your qualifications, and show the
search committee you are a potential candidate for the advertised position.
2. Personalize it to the company.
Anyone can reproduce a "canned" cover letter and hope for the best. Instead,
take a few minutes to personalize your letter by showing that you are really
serious about working for the companies you are contacting. State the reason
that you are interested in working for that particular company. Mention a
department, a new project the company is involved in, an acquisition the company
has made. Show that you have done your homework. Address the cover letter to a
specific individual whenever possible.
3. Why are
you sending your resume and cover letter?
Cover letters should be
clear and to the point. Include the specific job title, two to three reasons why
your experience makes a good fit, and a brief outline of career highlights.
4. Highlight your strengths!
You may be
a great person and never call in sick, but prospective employers really want to
know why they should consider you for this position. Brag a little! Give a few
facts, list relevant skills, and state accomplishments on your present or most
recent jobs that will be impressive. Increased overseas sales by 93%? Negotiated
new financial leases/loans? Implemented new training programs which reduced
staff turnover by 15%?
5. State your intentions
and qualifications right up front.
If you expect a senior personnel
manager or recruiter to wade through a mish-mash of information on your cover
letter before understanding why you are sending your resume, chances are, it
will never happen.
6. What makes you
Emphasize your skills, talents, and experiences to show how
you would be a valuable addition to the team. If you have relevant volunteer or
professional experience include it briefly in your cover letter. Example: An
accountant who serves as volunteer treasurer for a nonprofit community health
organization; an international sales rep who has lived in Europe and Asia and
speaks several languages.
7. No negative
Never include personality conflicts with previous
employers, pending litigation suits, or sarcastic remarks in your cover letter.
If you are bad-mouthing your present place of employment, interviewers may fear
a repeat performance if they hire you.
should you include salary/relocation information?
The rule of thumb is
to always include salary requirements and/or salary history in the cover letter
if a prospective employer requests it. For example: My salary requirements are
$60,000-$75000 (negotiable). Or: My current salary is $53,000 at XYZ
corporation. To eliminate this information from your cover letter may justify
your resume getting tossed out. Never include salary and relocation information
on your resume, only address this information in your cover letter.
9. Action Steps to Take
Take a proactive
approach in your cover letter. State the fact that you are available for a
personal interview; give your home, work, e-mail, and/or cell phone numbers
where you can be reached; note that you will follow up by phone (where possible)
to provide any additional information required.
10. Be direct!
A professionally written cover letter
and resume can open the doors to your next position on the corporate ladder, as
well as a new career in a different field. A clean, error-free presentation
combined with strong phrasing and solid facts will encourage the reader to
review the attached resume and call you in for an interview.