You're sitting in front of your computer applying for several positions all of which ask you to email your resume and cover letter. Turns out, you don't have a cover letter, so you're about to write one and realize you don't know how. Then the question sets in: Do you really need one?
Yes, you do.
A cover letter provides the hiring manager with an opportunity to understand who you are without ever opening the attachment. It saves them time while they're sifting through dozens upon dozens of resumes for the exact same position, and it offers a very particular snapshot.
You see a cover letter, unlike a resume, is to the point and highlights all your skills directly relevant to the position.
It's the trailer for the movie. If it's not interesting, chances are they're not going to spend $10 to view the main feature. Moreover, can you imagine watching a trailer which represents 20 movies?
Just like your resume, every cover letter should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. Sending out a generic cover letter or resume leaves the hiring manager unimpressed, and they can tell when it’s essentially a copy and paste job.
What impresses you more? A wedding thank you card from the couple that talks about the vase you gifted them and where they’re going to place it, or a generic card that says thank you for your gift.
Writing a cover letter has a few components:
- Introduction: State your name, the position you’re applying for and one sentence on what qualifies you for the position.
- Body: Spend three sentences on an extremely brief overview of your background inserting keywords relevant to the job description.
- Conclusion: End the cover letter by saying your resume is attached, you’ll call them next week to follow up, and you'd love to answer any question they throw your way.
Remember, a cover letter is the opening to your resume. It should be an extremely easy read or a quick skim, and a child should be able to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. If you can’t read your cover letter in 30 seconds or less, you’ve failed.