“Cover letters are dead!” scream headlines from Forbes and Fast Company.
Is that true? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Cover letters are essential parts of your application. They give you the opportunity to market yourself as THE person who can deliver the results the employer wants. Your cover letter gives you a chance to show the recruiter and hiring manager how you see yourself filling the position. In it, you give them a different way to read your resume than they might read it if they only come to your resume with their own knowledge, perspective, biases, and experience.
Forbes did say, too, that 53% of employers look favorably on candidates who submit a cover letter. A recent blog post said 1/3 of recruiters/hiring managers will not read your cover letter, 1/3 will read it before they go to your resume, and 1/3 will read it if they like your resume.
With those odds, why would you NOT write a cover letter?
Good cover letters make the case for you: how your expertise, experience and previous impact will allow you to help the employer reach their goals – making the “marketing” match for how you as “product” can solve their “problem” and “heal their pain.”
Focus it on the IMPACT you will have. Be specific about how your expertise and experience match what’s required, and then go beyond to say how you will use your background to help the employer reach its goals. You’ll need to research the company to make a compelling case. If you talk about the impact you’ll have and outcomes you’ll produce, you’ll do more than most candidates do – so you will stand out.
Good cover letters serve as writing samples, as well.
Remember to use the name of the position and company at least 3 times in the body of your letter. It reassures readers that you know what job you are applying for at which company.
Finally, say why you want to work at the employer. Focus on their mission. They do not care that you’ll be able to grow and develop – unless you say you’ll grow and develop because you are working on a cause or product you believe in, at an organization or company that is tops at what they do.
I always look at cover letters when I recruit for a client, because I can tell a lot about the person depending on whether they used the right company name, the right position title, and show they did their homework on the company. Do they know what we do? Do they know what we need and want and care about? Have they made a compelling case for themselves?
Why not write a cover letter, if it can do so much for you? If it’s ignored, so be it. Just don’t be without one in case someone wants to read it.