Simply put, a cover letter is a one-page letter that you would traditionally put on top of your resume when you handed it to a potential employer—thus “covering” your resume in a physical sense. In the Internet age, a cover letter is a tool employers use to decide whether or not your resume is actually worth reading. When sites like LinkedIn® allow thousands of people to apply for the same job opening, the person making the hiring decision doesn’t have time in the workday to look through every single one of those resumes. So they glance through cover letters to decide which resumes are worth their limited time.
Good cover letters tell employers a few things that resumes don’t:
- How well you write. A resume is a series of bullet points; a cover letter is prose. If you can’t communicate clearly in a well-thought-out, formal letter, then how well can your potential employer expect you to communicate in daily office emails? Show how well you communicate with a standout cover letter.
- If you’ve read the job posting. Anyone can prepare a generic resume and send it to every job posting they can find. This is about as effective as throwing a whole pot of spaghetti at the wall to see if it’s done—a few strands might stick, but a lot of spaghetti ends up on the floor. Don’t be one of those people. Use your cover letter to highlight specific experiences and successes you’ve had that are relevant to the job in question.
- What sets you apart from other applicants. There will always be other people applying for your dream job. Many of them will have the same education that you do. Some of them might have similar past experience—or even more than you do. But even if your resume’s shorter, you might still be the best person for the job. Your cover letter is a chance to highlight your personality, work ethic, and any other unique attribute you have that doesn’t fit neatly in the sections of a standard resume.
- What happened in the gaps on your resume. If you took a long time between jobs to go back to school, take a sabbatical, serve a religious mission, or recover from an injury, your resume could have a gap on it that might not look good to employers. Your cover letter is the place to let them know what happened in a positive way—and to show how you’ve grown into a better potential employee because of that experience.
Plus, the fact that you’re writing a cover letter at all (especially if it’s not “required”) shows that you have interest in and enthusiasm for the position they want to fill.
Remember, a cover letter’s purpose is to get an employer to read your resume. Because if they never read your resume, you’ll never get called in for an interview.
There are several ways that Resume Poets® can help you turn your cover letter into a work of art:
- Composition: A Resume Poet can help you brainstorm which experiences and triumphs will best grab an employer’s attention, then help you present them in the short, succinct manner necessary for a cover letter. If you resume has any systemic weaknesses (like years of unemployment), a Resume Poet can help you turn that weakness into a job-finding strength. We’re expert resume writers, and we can help you succeed with any background.
- Review: If you already have a working draft of a cover letter, a Resume Poet can review it to make sure that every word is relevant to the job you’re applying for—and exciting to read. An employer might be going through hundreds of cover letters a day, but Resume Poets® know how to make your cover letter stand out from the crowd.
- Proofreading: Don’t let a silly typo sink your chance for a successful career! Our Resume Poets will go over your cover letter with a fine-toothed comb, making sure that you present yourself as professionally as possible—right down to the very last comma.