Hello again Cash Turtles! Sorry for the hiatus. I’ve been trying to figure out how to get this blog setup on my own WordPress server… it’s a lot harder than I initially thought.
On with the article! As you may have read on the “About” page I also want to give interview, resume, and career advice on this blog. Having a steady job and making a good salary is a key part of everything we talk about on this site. To that end, I wanted to write an article on the resume cover letter.
Recently, I've found that less and less candidates are sending in cover letters. If I had to guess, only around 20% of candidates send them in to my company. And I have to be honest, we usually only skim them if they're applying for an entry level position. Cover letters are generally more important when you begin to apply to more specific, higher paying jobs.
That isn't to say that you shouldn't write a cover letter. A great cover letter can only help set you apart from the sea of candidates. It is also important to note that perfecting your resume comes before the cover letter. When reviewing candidates to a position we typically review the resume first to make sure they qualify. If they do, that's when we go back and look at a cover letter. The bottom line is that a cover letter, as long as it is well written and the resume is top notch, can't hurt.
Now we'll move on to some tips for writing a cover letter!
- Keep it short and sweet
- One page max. The cover letter is just to help the folks reviewing your application get an idea about you. Don’t write them a full essay, be concise and to the point. Don’t feel bad if you have to take stuff out; you’ll be able to talk their ear off during the interview.
- They have tons of these things to read through. Be mindful of when you’re rambling, as it may bore a potential employer.
- Don’t be redundant
- Don’t use your cover letter to repeat things that are in your resume. If you’re taking time to write one, and you expecting employers to take time to read it, you want to make sure it adds as much value as possible. Tell them why you think you’d be a good fit for the job, personal experiences that match qualifications etc.
- Focus on skills you have that match skills in the job posting. Highlight these.
- You can write a few sentences about each skill that you have that matches something in the listing.
- Alternatively, you can come up with a sort of table: one column with their desired traits, and a second with your experiences.
- Bottom line, highlight why you’re a good fit for the job. Try to draw them in and make them interested.
- Tie it in with a story about how you've interacted positively with the company before
- Name drop, but be careful. If you know an employee and know they'll give you a good review, this can help.
- Usually do this in the first paragraph: “I heard about this job from _______"
- Be professional
- This goes without saying... don’t crack jokes in your cover letter.
The place of a cover letter:
To take out paragraphs and blocks of text from resumes
To give employers an idea of why you chose THEIR company
Highlight some skills about how you relate to the company
Bottom line: It can’t hurt you… unless you have a terrible cover letter.
I plan on writing much more on this topic, so there will definitely be more to come. Let me know if you have any comments or questions!