When applying for a job, many people wonder whether a cover letter is really necessary; they often ask the questions: “why can’t I just post or email my resume or application form and let it speak for itself?” “Won’t a cover letter just be repeating what’s already in my resume anyway?” “Is it really necessary to include a cover letter?”
The answer to this last question is yes. You really do need a cover letter, and here’s why: most job search experts would agree that typically, a first impression of someone is formed within 4–8 seconds. Even scarier is the concept that once a first impression is formed, it’s very unlikely to change. If the chair of the selection committee opens your resume and discovers that you haven’t bothered to include a cover letter, it’s very possible that your application will end up in the recycling bin along with the envelope it came in.
Let Your Personality Shine Through
The most important part of having a cover letter is that it’s your opportunity to let your personality shine through. The beauty of a cover letter is that it’s personal to you; it’s a chance for the selection committee to get a glimpse of what you’re about. Don’t be tempted to download a secondhand template to use. This will be obvious to the person reading it, and you’ll come across as lazy and unimaginative. Injecting some personality into your letter doesn’t mean filling it with irrelevant anecdotes, but it does mean putting some thought and creativity into what you write. Try to make a connection with the reader and let your personality shine through.
If you’re unsure of what you should include in your cover letter, here are some tips to help you:
The first paragraph of your letter should include some important details:
• Which job are you applying for?
• What is the job reference number? (If you have one)
• Where did you hear about the vacancy?
• If it is a mass mailing, the opening needs to be very catchy.
Do Your Research
It’s important to show in your letter that you have some background information on the position or company to which you are applying. A cover letter should be tailored to each company you apply to, if possible. If the company has their own website, this can be a great starting point to find details about how they’re unique. Find out as much as you can and make a point of explaining why you are specifically drawn to that company.
What Can You Offer?
This is where knowing information about the position or company will make a difference. You should explain why your skills and attributes would benefit the company and what kind of contribution you could make. Be sure that what you say is relevant.
Presentation is Everything
Spelling or grammatical errors are unacceptable in a cover letter for any job application. Make sure you have your letter proofread. Once completed, your letter should be printed out using a formal, simple font style that matches your resume, on resume bond paper. Anything else may make your application stand out, but for all the wrong reasons. Make sure that you spell the name of your contact and the company correctly, and be sure to include your full name and contact details. The letterhead should match the resume with all your contact details.
Need additional help? Reach out to Candace to learn more!
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