When the job market is tough and full of competitors, you may feel that a strong cover letter may be your best chance of standing out from the crowd and perhaps the key piece in landing that hard to get interview. However, is that theory actually true? We all know that in today's market the hardest part is getting noticed and getting your foot in the door. So the question is, does your use of a cover letter prove to be effective?
As a sales recruiter, my responsibilities are to understand my client's needs and also to understand what my candidate is looking for. I have seen thousands of cover letters and they all seem to tell a story which is important, however what other real purpose does a cover letter serve that has not already been demonstrated on your resume? Cover letters can reveal a ton about a candidate and their ability to communicate, however do people still read them? Classically, cover letters were used as hard copy letters you sent to potential employers that served as an introduction to who you are and why you are interested in the company. Nowadays, it's very rare to see a hard copy cover letter or a resume due to the fact that the internet has become commonplace. It's now a cultural norm to shoot off a resume as an attachment to an email or simply submit a resume through an online portal. That being said, many job seekers tend to exclude any type of introductory email with the attachment of their resume and even their cover letter. You may think that you're following proper protocol by submitting a cover letter, but shooting off a blank email with only attachments can leave a bad impression and even lead to your resume being moved to the recycle bin. Let's be honest, an introduction email serves the exact same purporse as a cover letter. It is a proper way to establish a relationship with the hiring manager in the hopes of getting noticed. That being said, be conscious of what you put in your introductory email. Make sure the subject line of your email is professional yet eye catching. Also, be aware of your audience! Many people draft an introduction email and use the same one time and time again. It is extremely important that you tailor every introductory email (as you should do with your resume) to speak to the specific hiring manager(s). Never title your email with "Dear Sirs" or "Gentlemen". Many HR professionals and hiring managers are women. This can be a very easy way to leave a bad taste in the mouth of the intended party.
So what should your introduction email include?
1. Your story.
- Use it as a conversation piece- peak their curiosity!!
- Does it focus on your main competencies?
- If you are looking to change your career, are you focusing on transferable skills?
- What kind of skills would be beneficial to the hiring company?
2. How detailed oriented you are.
- Is your email grammatically correct? Are you articulate and well spoken?
- Is it structured?
- How pertinent is the information to the open position?
3. Be concise and direct.
- Focus on what is important. We are in a world of convenience!
- Be detailed and focus on your accomplishments.
4. Key Words.
- Organizations are now using technology to scan through introductory emails and resumes so make sure you include key words and phrases of what they are looking for!
Use your introductory email to your advantage! Organizations are flooded with resumes in today's marketplace and having a well written introductory email is your first chance of being noticed! Focusing on some of the above pointers will help you exemplify your skills and experience on what an organization is looking for. Once you have submitted your information, make sure you do not stop there!! Here is a great article that can give you direction:
Good luck and happy job hunting!