You spend time making a sharpened, honed and highly polished resume. You make sure that the application (whether online or in person) is perfect too. Now you take a few minutes to write a brief note saying that you have attached the resume to the application and look forward to the potential employer’s reply. You send it away and…never hear a word in response (except maybe an automated email saying your package has been received).
What happened? You botched the thing by not using the opportunity to write a smashing and wildly impressive cover letter. Stop and consider the issue. Yes, a cover letter often seems unnecessary in the face of ALL of that data in the application, but that is an inaccurate view of the matter. The resume has only one place for you to speak directly to the reader – in the “objective statement”. This is a matter of a few sentences and that’s it!
Now, the job cover letter on the other hand, is a chance for people to get a sneak peek at the information they will find in the resume and to also give another paragraph or two about yourself and the value you can bring to the company.
Don’t make the mistake of overwhelming the reader during the cover letter, but by all means use the document as a chance to whet their appetite and suggest the different areas of the resume that will be of interest.
For example, let’s say you are a graphic designer who has applied for a position in an advertising agency. You can draft a resume and cover letter that indicates your interest in the position and details the simple fact that a complete package is enclosed. This letter, however, can appear on paper you have designed and that uses your professional logo. It will have a paragraph about your work in advertising such as “I hope you enjoy viewing the billboards I designed for XYZ..” which you can see by clicking the link in my electronic resume.
The resume / job cover letter lets you introduce yourself and the information, allows you to comment on your sincere interest in the firm and their work, and indicates any details about your willingness to be interviewed.
It may seem like a silly courtesy, but the cover letter is an essential and should be viewed as a rare opportunity to give yourself an edge over any competition for the job you seek.