While a resume is an essential part of the application process, it is worth remarking on the cover letter. The cover letter is what allows a skilled applicant to get his or her foot in the door. In most situations, it is the first thing that the prospective employer sees, and in many regrettable circumstances, it is the only thing that the employer sees.
A job hunter, whether he or she is currently employed or not, cannot afford a cover letter that is anything less than brilliant. A cover letter is essentially the first impression, and as the old saying goes, you are only allowed to make one.
What Doesn’t the Resume Say?
We all get the advice about not repeating the resume, but too many people simply do not know what this means! A resume is the place to describe professional accomplishments and achievements, and at the end of the day, it could belong to anyone.
A cover letter, on the other hand, is an introduction to an employee’s personality, wit and charisma. A resume is impersonal, a cover letter is personal. Any employer who knows what they are doing is looking for a good personal fit as well as a good professional fit. Without a personality-driven cover letter, even a fantastic resume might get shunted away.
A good human resources manager or hiring manager can smell a copied cover letter from a mile away. When an applicant has been putting in a dozen resumes and applications, it is very tempting to simply copy the same cover letter over and over again. After all, the applicant reasons, I am the same person.
Unfortunately, the truth is that for every job, the applicant should be a slightly different person! A copy and paste cover letter that has been generalized for use across a dozen possible employers is going to look exactly like what it is. It will be seen as a time-saving device, and a rather dull one at that, and it will likely get the entire application dropped into the wastebasket.
Do Some Research
When applying for a company, look into what the company is all about. Has it been having trouble with certain aspects in the last few years? What kind of personality does it want to project to its public? Does it like to see itself as something professional and stylish, or something staid and reliable?
Some businesses do very well with a fun and carefree feel, while others rely on being very steady. Learn what kind of front the business wants to put forward and then match it. Attitudes do come across in cover letters, and a small amount of research allows an applicant to put on the right demeanor.
Nothing is more frustrating for a hiring manager than a cover letter that will not end. The common wisdom is that the cover letter should not be longer than one page, but when push comes to shove, the truth is that it should not be longer than three paragraphs. A good cover letter is always a brief one.
A hiring manager should be able to skim over it quickly and learn everything he or she needs to know. This takes some practice to get right; in fact, many people will turn their cover letters over to professional editors just for this purpose. A cover letter is meant to illuminate with the fewest words possible.
A cover letter needs to work for an applicant, but the wrong cover letter actively works against them. Because so many businesses rely on a cover letter to tell them what’s what about an applicant, be sure to make the cover letter stellar!
By Andre Bradley