A strong resume is great, no doubt. But in the quest for your dream job, do you really want to put all your eggs in one basket? No matter how strong it is, it’s risky to rely solely on your resume to help you stand out in the field of many strong candidates all vying for the same great opportunity. A well-crafted, informative cover letter is just the thing to give you an edge. It allows you to tell the story of who you are and why the organization needs you on their team. A great cover letter can be the hook that encourages the hiring manager or recruiter to spend a few extra minutes considering you and your qualifications — which increases your odds of landing that interview!
Here are the 4 reasons a cover letter is still absolutely important:
1) It shows you know about the company and the industry.
In your cover letter, tell why you want to work for that particular company, what you know about it’s reputation and it’s recent history. Make it clear that you are approaching this organization for a specific reason and that your skills and experience are an ideal match. Impress them that you have done your homework and understand what the organization needs.
2) It tells them why they should hire you.
Make it clear that your specific skills are perfectly suited to the job and that your contributions will strengthen the overall organization. Tell about your accomplishments and experiences that are particularly relevant to the scope of the job. Explain why you know you are right for the position and why it makes sense as the next step in your career.
3) It enhances your resume.
The flow of the cover letter can explain your experience in a different, more impactful way than a chronological resume. You can emphasize your proudest accomplishments, show parallels between different experiences, and elaborate on responsibilities and challenges. This also gives you a chance to explain career gaps or a shift in the direction of your career. You can also draw attention to relevant noteworthy skills or experiences, like knowing a foreign language, living overseas, or substantive volunteer work.
4) It shows off your personality and intelligence
Resumes, with their constraining formula, don’t allow much room for expression. The cover letter lets you engage with the reader — showing your genuine interest, explaining choices, and giving an idea of your personality. It also shows that you can communicate well, with organized thoughts, relevant information, and solid writing skills.
Tips for a writing great letter:
- if possible, address the letter to a specific person
- state the reason for your letter in the opening paragraph
- write well (have someone else proofread it): no cliches, no spelling or grammatical errors, no slang
- don’t just restate the exact same information that is already on your resume
- be brief — determine the 2-4 things you want to highlight before you start writing
A strong cover letter is an essential tool for growing your career, whether you are looking to move up the corporate ladder or change directions to a new field. The information it provides about your value — and the doors it will open because of that — make writing one well worth the effort.