By Loren Smalley
It used to be that cover letters and resumes went hand in hand. When applying for a job, you wouldn’t think of sending one without the other. These days, only about half of companies require job seekers to submit a cover letter. So, should you include one with your application? The answer is yes.
Think of the cover letter as another way to sell yourself, highlighting the skills you want someone to notice. Companies that ask for cover letters recognize the value of this important document, and job applicants should too. Cover letters help make a connection between you and the company, and they allow you to explain why YOU are the best fit for the job. A good cover letter should summarize your resume, emphasizing the attributes that an employer might overlook during the five to eight seconds they’re actually reading it.
Those who really want to stand out from the crowd should consider this next point: Savvy job seekers can use a cover letter to show off their personality, something that is not always easy to do with a traditional resume.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Tailor your cover letter to the specific job.
- Try to include key words from the job description.
- State who you are, which position interests you and why.
- Use a few bullet points to highlight your most relevant skills and experience.
- Make a connection between you and the company.
- Request an interview.
- Include your name and contact information.
- Keep the document to one page.
- Save it to a PDF file so anyone receiving it can open it on any device.
And the most important recommendation to get you on your way to sending out a great cover letter… Proofread! Proofread! Proofread! Never send out a cover letter that you did not proofread for errors. Have someone read it for you just to double check! Now you’re ready to let your cover letter do the talking.
Bring your resume for a free Resume Review with a JCS Career Coach, October 9, November 13 or December 11 from 4:00 to 6:00pm at the Baltimore County Public Library in Pikesville.
Loren Smalley is a career coach in the JCS Career Center.
The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment assistance that helps job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resume and cover letter services, interview preparation, job readiness training, vocational rehabilitation and job placement assistance. For more information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbaltimore.org.