Best practice in job search suggests that you need to write a targeted cover letter for each job you apply for. That can be a daunting task to say the least!
So why do cover letters matter?
Cover letters matter because it shows a potential employer that you have taken the time to understand the needs that they have stated in their job posting and you are clearly showing how you can help solve the employer’s challenges. I often use the analogy of the job postings being the question – the employer is asking if anyone out there fits what they are looking for. Your cover letter along with your resume should answer that question, clearly stating that you are the answer to the employer’s question!
Brian, a hiring manager for a large technology company, shares that he appreciates a well-written cover letter. He says that cover letters are a great way to share information that is not highly visible in your resume. A good example might be if your experience does not perfectly match the job description. You can use your cover letter to fill in any gaps and help the reviewer get a sense of where you can still add value in the position. Also, Brian says that he uses the cover letter to gauge the candidate’s level of interest in the position. He is trying to determine if the job seeker is actually interested in his particular position within the company or simply just applying for any type of work. Brian just completed a round of resume reviews and only 1 out of 15 job seekers included a cover letter. By taking the extra effort to submit a tailored cover letter, you can greatly increase the strength and visibility of your application.
Recently, I was talking to Debbie, a board member of a local non-profit, who had recently submitted a job posting to a local job search website. She had received a number of applications without cover letters. She said that this was a definite turn-off for her. She said that she and her team had taken a long time to craft the job description, really trying to get it right. She found it frustrating that job seekers were not taking the same care and attention to create a cover letter that showed that they had what it took to do the job.
If writing cover letters is driving you crazy, consider these three guiding questions that can help you focus on what is important.
- Looking at the job posting, what are the two key areas that you think the employer needs the most help in? Now think of specific skills, experience, or education that you may have that would demonstrate that you can help the employer with those needs.
- Why do you want to work at this company? What interests or excites you about this company? I cannot stress enough that you must do your research. Look at their website. Check out blogs and do some Google searches to figure out what this company does. Then find a way to share this in your cover letter!
- What would you be most excited about doing if you were hired? Let’s say that you get the job. Based on what you know about the job, what tasks would you find the most enjoyable? This question indicates where your passions and interests lay. Find a way to incorporate this energy and enthusiasm into your cover letter!
When you feeling impatient in your job search, you may be tempted to cut some corners and not submit a cover letter or submit a generic cover letter. Please do not do this. Take the time to write a carefully targeted cover letter that will help employers catch the vision for how you can help them and why you want to work for their company.
Trust me, it’s worth it!
If writing a cover letter still proves to be daunting, consider getting some help! Contact Kristin today for your free 15-minute consultation at 604-614-3155 or at Kristin@careerstory.ca.