To write a cover letter or not, that is a question I frequently get from new clients. Many candidates skip this important step when applying for a position. They either don’t know enough to write a cover letter, have written them off as old-fashioned, or draft a ho-hum letter that sounds like the other thousand letters the hiring manager receives each week. Eliminating the cover letter is a big mistake, especially in an economy that has slowed considerably, and where every candidate is looking for ways to stand out.
The depth and complexity of cover letters vary based on the position and industry. Entry level and some technical positions may only require an introductory e-note that can be read on a smart phone; however, it is also safe to say that the more senior the position/higher the salary, the more important the cover letter becomes as a differentiator.
If you are interested enough in a position to apply, take the time to do your homework and then use what you learn to tie your experience to the job requirements. Be the easy choice; don’t make the hiring manager work for it because she won’t.
I’ve been working with a talented client in the fin-tech sector. After crafting an accomplishment-focused resumé and solid LinkedIn profile he is ready to apply for positions at a handful of prestigious companies. He has done his homework to qualify his top choices and in the last couple of weeks, has learned first-hand the value of a well-crafted cover letter.
Deciding to write a cover letter requires a thoughtful approach to your job search. Cover letters aren’t for sissies. They take time to research and write since each one is different! A strong letter conveys your curiosity, qualifications and desirability in a novel way. The process forces you to think critically about the company’s needs, culture and place in the market and consider your qualifications and motivation for working there. Along the way, you learn about and gain an understanding and appreciation for the organization’s value proposition. This can pay dividends during interview conversations.
In addition, an effective cover letter introduces your resumé. It establishes your brand and whets the reader’s appetite enticing them to read more.
An unexpected benefit of writing a cover letter is that doing so better prepares you for interview conversations, something my clients regularly discover. Your cover letter and resumé will help establish you as a player. The critical thinking involved in drafting the letter will add breadth and depth to your discussions. In the case of my client, he found that he is better equipped to offer insights and ask compelling questions because of the pre-work he did on the cover letter. In one case, it factored into his decision not to take the next step when he determined the job didn’t fit his criteria.
When in doubt, write the cover letter. It is more than a professional nicety; it is essential for career success.
Mary Jeanne Vincent, career expert and strategist, has a private coaching practice and guides clients nationally. She may be reached at 831-657-9151, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.careercoachmonterey.com
© 2020 Mary Jeanne Vincent. All rights reserved.