I saw your web site while searching for advice on cover letters. Someone told me that
cover letters are really obsolete yet I find a lot of stuff written about them. So what’s
your advice? Should job-seekers like me really still be concerned with writing cover letters?
The Career Doctor responds:
I wonder where some of these ideas come from but I can tell you as directly as
I can that cover letters play a vital role in the job-search process when done correctly.
Cover letters should entice the reader draw him/her into your story — enough so to
turn the page and review your resume.
Is that all you may ask? Yes that’s the function of a cover letter — to get your resume
reviewed a little more carefully than without it which in turn ideally leads to an invitation
to a job interview.
A cover letter specifically addresses the job you are seeking and how your unique
attributes make you the ideal candidate — the ideal fit — for the job and the organization.
For a report on the current status of cover letters in the job search see our Cover Letter White Paper.
Here’s a quick rundown of what your cover letter should entail.
First the length. Always err on the side of being brief so no more than one page
and really about four paragraphs total. If it’s an email cover letter it should be even shorter.
Second the content. The first paragraph must engage the reader. Make it dynamic.
Make it weave the reader into the rest of the letter. Don’t waste it with some boring
formulaic sentence. The second and third paragraphs give specific details that highlight
your qualifications and your fit with the position and the organization; if possible use
some of the employers own words here. Your last paragraph should thank the reader
and request an interview. You should also say you plan to follow-up the letter at a
later date — you must be proactive.
Third the follow-up. Sending out the cover letter and resume is an extremely important
step but only the first of many. Job-seekers must follow-up by contacting the employer
shortly after they expect the letter to arrive — to show your interest and enthusiasm for
the job and organization.
For more cover letter tips please visit this section of Quintessential Careers:
Cover Letter Resources for Job-Seekers.