Absolutely a cover letter is required when you’re applying for a job!
The difference between getting a call to come in for an interview or not could all come down to your cover letter. There are so many arguments for and against – personally, I’ think a cover letter is essential to accompany your resume when applying for a job….and while your at it, get creative!!
Let your cover letter show your energy and enthusiasm……let it show your pizzazz, spunk, your personality!
On paper, your skills and experience might be the same as the next applicant…as the other 5 applicants…but a well worded letter can put you ahead of the pack. I did say a well worded letter – please, please, please don’t do one letter that’s generic and try to pass it off for every job that you apply for – you know what I mean! I wish to apply for the position advertised with your company, I can be a great asset to your business blah, blah, yadda, yadda,yadda….NEXT CANDIDATE PLEASE!
If you’re serious about making an impression – tailor your letter to the job that you’re applying for. Read the ad, study the position description, and research the business. The internet makes this so easy for you so take advantage of that! Don’t use generic terms – if you know the name of the business, use it. If you’ve been able to find out a bit about them, use some of their buzz words to show that you understand their culture and the environment. If there is a number to contact about the job – great! Ring them and ask some questions – importantly, ask who you can address your application to. Don’t just go with ‘Dear Sir / Madam’ or ‘To the Hiring Manager’ if you can avoid it. If you can show that you’ve done your research even at this early stage and personalise your letter, you’re well on your way to getting an interview over the next resume that they pick up.
You need to tell them how your skills are transferable to what they need and add value to their business. If you don’t quite tick all the boxes (and sometimes you shouldn’t – that’s growth into the role and what we refer to as ‘stretch’…but more on that in another blog) that’s ok, but make sure that they are aware of how well you can perform in other areas. If the match isn’t obvious – make the connection for them.
Let’s say that you’ve been in an admin role, have had significant customer contact and have great customer service skills, hold your RSA but no hands on bar experience. Well – I bet you can talk to all sorts of people, striking up conversation with them, finding out what their tastes are, have a smiling face, create an immediate relationship, have skills speaking to people face to face and over the phone, computer skills to use their tils/ordering systems and the enthusiasm to learn how to pull a beer and make a mean cocktail right? Well – tell them that that’s how you’ll transfer your skills to be the welcoming face of their business. See where I’m coming from?
Oh – and don’t forget to use spell check! If you can get someone to read over your letter and give you some helpful feedback, that’s a great idea. It can be tough to sell yourself, so getting someone to help you do this makes the whole process that bit easier.
If you need some help, shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll contact you to chat through some ideas.