Do cover letters really matter? It’s a common refrain from job seekers nowadays.
One small-business owner has this to say: “As the owner-manager of a small professional firm, I always read cover letters before reviewing the accompanying resume.
“If I liked the cover letter, I’d look to the resume to confirm the skills and experience we were looking for.”
The takeaway for applicants is that there’s no reason not to write a cover letter and there’s every reason to make it as good as it can be.
More Than an Afterthought
How do you make your first impression with an employer? With your cover letter.
Don’t let the name fool you. “Cover letter” suggests afterthought, slap-on status. Yet it is critical, since:
- It speaks for you before the resume. It introduces you. A pleasant, clear, brief cover letter conveys one message; a remote, gnarled, wandering letter, another.
- It highlights aspects of your career that might otherwise get lost in the resume. It gives you a chance to aim spotlights at the right places.
- It shows your care for detail. Or, rather, it shows that you aren’t careless, that you haven’t dashed off a last-minute message.
- It can reveal your judgment. For instance, if you mention irrelevancies like hobbies in the cover letter, you can trip yourself up. No one wants an executive with poor judgment.
The real question a cover letter answers every step of the way is this:
Given that you’re so terrific, what can your wonderful qualities do for this organization? That’s the question.
You may be terrific in many ways, but the only qualities that matter are those that demonstrate to the reader that good things will happen if you’re hired. In other words, if I give you a job, what’s in it for me?
Whatever your job search strategy, I can help you polish it to achieve your next great position, whether you're in need of anew resume, cover letter, or just fantastic job search and career coaching.