Sending out your resume during a job search can sometimes seem like tossing your credentials into a black hole; there’s often no way of knowing whether or not you’ll receive a call or whether your resume was even reviewed. On the other hand, from an employer’s perspective, it can be hard to sift through a pile of resumes in the search for the perfect candidate. And with so many other CVs to compete with, your resume could use an extra something to help make an impression for you. This is why, when applicable, cover letters can make all the difference.
Some application processes, particularly online, do not offer an option to include a cover letter. But when submitting a resume via email or in person, including one can make you stand out against the others. In fact, not having one can result in a lost opportunity.
It’s obviously important to include a cover letter if asked to, but if you aren’t required to include one with your application, doing so will show that you’re willing to go the extra mile. The cover letter also gives you the space to expand on the details of your skills and work experience that can’t fit on your resume. Oftentimes, although a cover letter typically precedes a resume, employers will glance at the resume first. Your cover letter allows the employer to delve deeper into your credentials should your resume impress them.
When writing your cover letter, be sure to include:
- Contact information
- Clarification of what position(s) you are applying for
- What skills, experience, and competencies you have to offer
- Why you’d be a great fit for that particular position and the company in general, to demonstrate that you’ve done research on the company
- A thank-you for the employer’s time and consideration
Cover letters also implicitly allow you to exercise and showcase a particular set of skills: writing, communication, and professionalism. Many jobs out there list these as requirements, and writing an impressive cover letter can save you space and clichés on your resume—you’ll no longer have to include “excellent communication skills” when you could be fitting in something much more unique and applicable. Instead, your skills can be judged by how clearly and effectively you write your letter.
The cover letter also allows for much more creative freedom than a lone resume. While resumes are cut-and-dry facts in bullet point format, the letter you accompany yours with can better express your personality. You can use it to expand on your experiences, highlight your best traits, and give the employer a bit more insight into who you are as an employee and a person. In a job market with so many professionals looking for work, the more you can do to stand out, the better. Having a well-formatted, concise, professional cover letter is one of the best ways you can do so.