Like their trusted companions, resumes, cover letters are not the most enjoyable things to write. After all, we are not all writers by nature. The question constantly surfaces about whether or not this item is necessary when submitting a resume. When in doubt, the basic answer is yes!

Cover letters serve a very different purpose than resume, and they are amazing tools for several reasons, including:

  1. They help optimize your application. You can weave a large number of key words and soft skills in your cover letter story.
  2. It gives you an opportunity to not only tailor it to your audience, but also address it to a key person at a company, or the person in charge of hiring.
  3. Demonstrates the main skill employers are seeking in their candidates – communication!
  4. A cover letter has been known to be the clincher on a tough hiring decision.
  5. Tells your story.

Let’s review each reason in more detail!

Optimizes your application

A resume is a fact document. It captures the facts about your work experience in a brief and professional way. Key words can be weaved through, but the cover letter elevates the number of key words.

Tailor to your audience

Imagine you have several key characteristics and values you and the company share. Maybe this was due to your previous work environment, or your genuine passion for what this organization does in its industry. The cover letter is an opportunity for you to tailor a message to your audience that can capture your genuine passion.

Communication

Employers want a hard worker. They want a laundry list of key skills, most of them soft. However, communication is the skill that accompanies each one of those other skills. If the company is looking for a leader, communication is going to be highlighted. If they want a person with strong interpersonal skills, communication is one of the key elements. If the organization is seeking someone who is a great problem solver, you guessed it: communication is weaved into problem solving. Using every chance you get to demonstrate your strong communication skills through your application is crucial.

Solves a tough hiring decision

Many recruiters have noted this and hiring managers are guilty of this. Hiring decisions, especially tough ones between two final candidates, have been made by the cover letter. You read that correctly. If there is a grammatical error or a cover letter has been omitted, some candidates have lost the job because of this. No one will openly admit it, but we know it has happened.

Tells your story

Maybe not your whole story, but it does give you an opportunity to tell a bit of your career story – tailored to the job – that will capture your audience. It is also a sales pitch for why you would be a great contribution to that team.

Yes, cover letters can be time-consuming, but they are an important part of a job application strategy. Think about your story, and tie it to what the company is looking for – you may just be rewarded for the extra words.