One of the biggest benefits of a well written cover letter is its ability to connect the dots for a reader. In other words, the resume lists the skills you have, but it’s the cover letter that really explains to the employer why you are a good match for a specific role. To accomplish this, you simply need to select some key items from the job description and illustrate how expertise gained from past positions enables you to meet and exceed the prospective employer’s expectations.
Admittedly, this part of the process is time-consuming because it forces you to customize the letter as opposed to simply sending the same exact letter for each application. However, this approach can have a huge positive impact on your likelihood of securing an interview. When you close the gap between the job description and your background, employers can instantly see you as a top candidate.
When you apply to jobs and craft multiple cover letters, save each one. As your collection grows, you’ll likely find that customization becomes faster and faster because many of the roles you apply to have similar requirements and responsibilities. And on another positive note, saving cover letters is a somewhat informal method of tracking the positions you have submitted resumes to. This is very helpful when you start receiving call-backs but can’t remember all the places you have applied.
And one last note about using templates and reusing old cover letters. You’ll always want to double check to make sure that you update the employer name, address, etc. on the letter. We have received cover letters accidentally addressed to other companies or that express interest in a specific position that isn’t available through our service. This proofreading step may seems obvious, but it’s actually a very easy mistake to make.
Other ways a cover letter can work in your favor
Aside from having great marketing potential, cover letters are also a perfect way to explain any possible oddities that your resume could reflect. For example, perhaps you just moved to a new part of the country so all your experience is miles away. You can quickly mention that you have officially relocated and are already in the area available for work. This would ease any concerns a resume reviewer could have in terms of your current physical location and readiness to interview or begin a new job.
Or perhaps this role would be a career change and you need to explain why you are choosing a new direction. In situations like that, you’ll want to explain the why but then also illustrate how your skills translate. If you end up applying to jobs that an employer could perceive as being a step down (i.e. you could be over qualified), they may want to know why you have interest in this position.
In any situations like these, the purpose of a cover letter is simply to make it less likely that your resume gets screened out based on assumptions the reader could make (i.e. applicant doesn’t live here, this is a step down for the candidate so clearly not a match, this job isn’t in line with this candidate’s career path, etc.).