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The Cover letter for a resume is often regarded
as a mere formality and is not given the importance it deserves.
Most job-seekers would prefer to skip it and just send their
resume alone to prospective employers. Others would invariably
send an announcement cover letter stating the obvious i.e "
Please find enclosed my resume…". Such cover letters would
definitely be a waste. Is a cover letter then, really necessary?
A Cover letter with the resume is essential to improve your
chance of selection
The cover letter is the first thing that the recruiter reads
when short-listing resumes. It is much shorter than a resume
and, if well written in content and presentation, could grab the
attention of the person sifting through the possibly large
volumes of resumes that have arrived for a particular position.
This is particularly so in the case of advertised vacancies
where as many as 50 to 100 resumes could arrive for the position
every day. With these volumes, you can expect ruthlessness in
the screening process. In fact, the first level of screening
would probably be done by a clerk who may not even be aware of
the details of the advertised position and may be working on a
preliminary checklist provided to him. Over 50% resumes may be
removed at this stage and may not even reach the next level in
the screening process. A good cover letter would definitely help
at this stage in at least sounding different and standing out
from the crowd. It could improve your chance of being selected
for an interview.
Your cover letter should highlight the value you offer to
meet the employer needs
The cover letter is an opportunity for you to respond to the
needs of the prospective employer. You need to go beyond your
resume and its details of your past experience. And highlight
how you can help your new organisation in achieving its goals.
How your skills and experience together can meet the
expectations that accompany the new job profile. You can claim
the value that you offer to the organisation in your cover
letter. The detailed evidence to back up your claims will be
provided by your resume.
Try and customise your cover letters for different employers
A common practice is to send the same cover letter for different
employers through a mass mail exercise, where just the employer
name is changed. This may be so because it is easier and quicker
to finalise one cover letter whereas customised cover letters
for different employers would require a lot more effort. You may
even reduce the number of companies you send your resume to if
you need to customise each cover letter.
When you prepare different cover letters for different
employers, you will need to think along the following lines to
customise the letter i.e. you need to think about the
organisation and the industry its in, its customers and clients,
your job profile if you were to get recruited by them, and how
your strengths, abilities, traits could help contribute
significantly to the organisation . Just highlighting your basic
skills could help you get short-listed, but you need to stand
out above the clutter. You also need to differentiate yourself
vis a vis your competition and let that come through in the
letter. That would be the difference a customised cover letter
Address the letter to a specific person
There is a tendency to address the cover letter to a designation
such as Human Resources Manager or Personnel Manager etc. Make
an effort and find out the name of the person in the
organisation in that position and address the letter to him/her.
And remember do not get mixed up with gender. If you were to
erroneously write a Mr. with a name when it should have been
Mrs., you could lose whatever benefit you intended to get by
writing the name! Be careful to find out and do not get gender
wrong! A correct name would add to the positive spin-offs you
could get by customising your cover letters.
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