Resumes and Cover Letters
How important are resumes and cover letters in your job search?
Make no mistake. You cannot have one without the other. In today's competitive job market, a resume without a cover letter can exclude you from ever getting past the initial screening process.
Resumes and cover letters must be written with the same focus, the same goal. Each should be carefully tailored to the employer and the position being sought. They should fit like two pieces of a puzzle – each one enhancing the other.
Why is this so important?
For one thing, other job candidates are vying for the same position you are. If you want the job, you are going to have to top whatever they are doing. You have to be better. There is only one position open and anywhere from 50 to several hundred people applying for the same job. Everything you do must be professional and of excellent quality.
Resumes and cover letters have the same focus, but they do different things. The cover letter is an introduction to you and leads the reader to the resume. When the cover letter is written well, the resume gets read. If the cover letter has errors, the resume gets overlooked.
What are a few of the errors that a cover letter might have?
- No personalization. If you start your letter with "To Whom it may concern:", you have already lost points.
- No enthusiasm. You either want the job or you don’t. If you do, let your energy show.
- No knowledge of the company. Weave in a few tidbits about the organization and how you fit in or can meet their existing needs and an employer will take notice.
- No proofreading. Typos and grammar errors will eliminate you faster than anything else. Review your material and revise it if necessary
Resumes and cover letters have some things in common, too. For instance, both must be tailored to a single position at one company. Trying to mass market resumes to a variety of employers is ineffective. Every piece of paper you send to an organization must be targeted to one position at a time.
Another thing they have in common is the use of action words or keywords. Your writing must be bold and show confidence and a strength of character if you are to be given more than a cursory glance.
Whether you are talking about a resume or a cover letter, each one should reflect on your accomplishments, your experience and your desire to contribute to the organization's goals in clear and positive ways.
Resumes and cover letters go together. Use them in tandem to show the employer just how fantastic you are. They are both valuable in the job search process, but they are most valuable when used together.
Resumes and Cover letters aren't all you need to know about. Click here to read about Employer Applications and how to complete them
If you want to learn how to Write Effectively, check out this article