Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Resume Without a Cover Letter is a Job Only Half Done

I’ve written my resume and I think it’s pretty good.  It tells everything I’ve done – and even shows some accomplishments.  So why do I need a cover letter?  Isn’t a resume enough?

     Unfortunately, the answer is No.  It is not enough.

A well-crafted cover letter gives you another opportunity to make the sale for you as a potential employee and a skilled professional who can get the job done!

Cover letters are necessary.  Most employers request, require, or expect them to be included along with a candidate's resume.  So, ALWAYS include a cover letter, along with your resume, unless an ad states not to - which is rare.

Cover letters fulfill a specific purpose.  While a resume shows what a candidate has done for previous employers, and what skills he or she brings to the job, a well-crafted cover letter connects the dots!  Think of cover letters as allowing a little more literary license to discuss and describe accomplishments and and relate them to the needs of a prospective employer.

Why send a cover letter
(1)  Cover letters provide you with another way to show the employer just how you can provide value, benefit them, and solve problems.

(2)  They also allow you to demonstrate a desirable and valuable trait:  Responsiveness.  When written with attention to directly addressing each, or at least the prime, requirements for the position, the cover letter shows you to be responsive and attentive.  A recruiter or hiring manager, reading your letter, may think that “If you can do that in a letter, well . . . . . you may do that on the job too.  Here’s a candidate worth interviewing.”  In other words, you can gain a lot of mileage from a well written and thorough cover letter.

A cover letter is not a resume
It is not just a regurgitation of information that appears on your resume.  Your cover letter may draw information from your resume, but it will use that information to sell you as the best solution for the employer’s needs.  It allows you to address key points that you may want to highlight or amplify in order to make your case that you are particularly well qualified to meet the requirements of the position.  In other words, it allows you more literary license than the factual information provided by your resume.

A cover letter is an opportunity . . . . .
A cover letter is a written correspondence that allows you more freedom or license to make an argument why you should be considered for the position, or better yet, why you are the best candidate for the job!  It allows you to draw conclusions and project what you could do for a future employer  --  something you can't do in a resume. 

In your letter, you can discuss how the work you've done made a difference for your former companies, departments, bosses, colleagues, or customers.  You can list improvements resulting, benefits derived, and problems solved from your actions and input. 

The big difference
The big difference between your cover letter and resume is the literary license it allows for you to draw the conclusion, overtly or subtly - depending on your and the company's style--, that if you benefitted your previous employers,  you can do the same for future employers.  In other words, the cover letter allows you to sell yourself as a solution to their problem. 

So, don't sell yourself short.  Take advantage of the opportunity cover letters afford you.  Resumes may be the marketing tool that opens the door, but cover letters get you invited in.
For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website.
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