Unless you’re applying to a job through an online portal that doesn’t allow for one, a cover letter is an essential part of any application.
That being said, many hiring managers do admit to not reading cover letters they receive. A recent survey by Jobvite found that just 26 percent of hiring personal say they read cover letters regularly and use them in their hiring decisions. Even though many cover letter letters are never read, they are expected. A different survey found 56 percent of hiring managers said they want applicants to attach a cover letter to their application.
From these results, we can assume that a cover letter is a differentiating factor in a hiring decision: It won’t get you the job, but not including one, or a bad one, could get you eliminated from consideration.
A cover letter is important
Hiring personnel aren’t the only ones who admit to being dismissive of cover letters. Surveys show many job seekers don’t bother to write them. This means you can outcompete many job seekers by simply writing and submitting a good cover letter. Yes, getting ahead of the competition really is that simple.
A cover letter should be more than just a checklist item, however. It should serve a useful function and increase your chances of getting an interview. A cover letter can introduce you to the hiring manager, highlight how you can bring value to the company and show how you can solve problems the company is facing.
Writing a good cover letter
A one-size-fits-all cover letter can come across as impersonal and dispassionate, while a good cover letter shows a high level of interest by being customized to the position.
A cover letter is often your first written contact with a prospective employer, and therefore, it creates a valuable first impression. It should enhance, not replicate, the information on your resume by adding a personal touch and highlighting one or two of your key qualifications.
A good cover letter will explain why you are interested in a job opening and the company. It should also identify your most relevant abilities or achievements.
To figure out the most relevant details to include, carefully read the job description; then assess the abilities needed and how they relate to your own abilities. Then, consider the best one or two instances where you applied those abilities, and how you could be effective in the position available and include this information.
Be sure the letter is about your qualifications for the position, not you personally. Your letter should be short and to the point. If you are missing a secondary qualification for the position, don’t mention it in the letter. Instead, concentrate on the credentials you do have. Don’t include anything about salary unless the employer specifically asks salary requirements.
Keep your letter specific, succinct and just a few paragraphs in length. It’s essential to share just enough data to attract a hiring manager; no more, no less.
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