Why Is a Resume Cover Letter So Important?
A resume cover letter on point will cause the recruiter to review your resume with interest. A poorly written resume cover letter will not be read, it along with your unread resume will be discarded.
Why? Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes. You have 8 hours to review 100 resumes to compile the initial interview list. What are you looking for? Candidates that get it! In the words of one recruiter, his company looks for only one thing “…prove to me in your resume cover letter that you drank the Kool-aid…” In other words, if you are not a true believer in what we do, don’t waste my time.
Is there a format to writing a resume cover letter?
Yes, an effective resume cover letter will follow a recognized structure and style. The structure will include:
- Your contact information
- Recruiter’s contact information
- Paragraph 1 – why are you forwarding your resume?
- Paragraph 2 – why do you want to work here?
- Last paragraph – close by requesting an interview and thanking the hiring manager or recruiter
- End your resume cover letter with “Sincerely” or Sincerely Yours” followed by your name. This is not the time for informal, unprofessional closings.
Resume Cover Letter Rules:
1. A resume cover letter is normally no longer than 1 page. There are exceptions, which we will discuss in the next resume cover letter blog.
- Use the same header formatting and header information for your resume cover letter and each page of your resume
- These documents are separated and copied for internal distribution. If pages are misplaced, it’s easy to match them up
- In addition, it’s like advertising, repetition burns messages in the minds of recruiters
2. Never use “To whom it may concern” or “Sir/Madame”, this is a sure sign that you either sent a form letter (which will not be read); or you didn’t even care enough about this job opportunity to complete the minimal amount of research.
- The name and title of the recipient should be listed in the job notice; if not –
- Pick up the phone and call. You’d be surprised by the number of employers that do not include contact information on purpose. When they receive your resume cover letter and their name and title are present, you passed the first pre-interview test; you’re pro-active and know how to get things done.
3. Your resume is your primary marketing tool, your resume cover letter is a combination calling card and tool to place information that is either too long for your resume, or requires an explanation, including –
- A break-through in a process or product in which you were involved
- A gap in employment history due to returning to school; caring for a child, spouse or parent; called-up to military duty; etc.
4. Paragraph 1 – why are you forwarding your resume?
- Identify the specific position for which you are applying
- In no more than 2 sentences, identify why you are qualified for this position
- 1 sentence to indicate you “drank the Kool-aid”
5. Paragraph 2 – why do you want to work here?
- Identify how you understand the company and its purpose
- What can you do for the company?
- Use no more than 3 bullet points or 1 additional paragraph to list experience and accomplishments relevant to the employers’ requirements
- Quantify skills that match employer requirements
- Include 1 example that you are a “true believer”
- Examples must relate to why you are the best candidate for the position and the organization
- Unrelated information is useless and a waste of valuable space
6. Never put yourself in a position of asking or stating what the company can do for you. The successful candidate will ensure their resume cover letter and resume are all about what they can do for the company or organization.
7. Your passion for what you do and how that can benefit the company or organization must be told in your resume cover letter and in your resume objective and/or summary of qualification statements. When you can show you have the qualifications and you “drank the Kool-aid”, the recruiter will want you at the top of the interview list.