I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a cover letter accompany your resume EVERY SINGLE TIME you send it in and to make sure that it’s tailored specifically to the job you’re applying for.
Think about it from a hiring manager’s point of view. They can receive hundreds of applications for a single job position that they need to fill in just a short amount of time. On top of their regular job duties, they need to sift through all of the applications and find the top 5% to call in for an interview. It’s just not possible for them to look at every single person’s application. So what do they do? They narrow down the field by using the easiest and fastest tool they have – first impressions.
Let’s relate this to a different topic – sports. You’re a coach and need to “recruit” the best players possible for your team…
You’re coaching a soccer team and need to pick 15 members for your squad out of a potential 100 and you only have 2 hours to do so. It’s impossible to take a good look at every single player’s skills in only 2 hours, so you need to quickly narrow your search before you can study the players further. In order to do so, and without knowing anything about the players, you’re going to rely on your first impressions to make the first cut.
Take a look at the players standing before you – are they all wearing proper soccer attire and equipment? Do they look excited and enthusiastic about being here? Think about it – if there’s someone dressed in a soccer uniform and cleats and another one wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and sandals, one of them definitely appears to be more interested in joining your team than the other. Building on that, and only considering first impressions, one looks a lot more capable than the other. While there may be a hundred explanations for this difference, it really doesn’t matter when you have a limited amount of time – the ones who don’t look interested are not going to make the first cut.
Consider the above situation and think about it from a hiring manager’s point of view. You have 50 applications before you and you need to call 5 people in for an interview. You have a limited amount of time to decide, so you need to eliminate some applications quickly. What can we see without even reading the details of each application? Some have cover letters along with the resume and some do not. The applications without cover letters are a little bit like the people showing up to soccer tryouts with jeans and no equipment. They make a terrible first impression – they don’t appear as interested as the other ones, so why should anyone bother with them?
Applications without cover letters are always the first ones discarded. The presence of a cover letter shows a genuine interest in a job position because you actually took the time to write it. The current economic climate is not exactly one that is overflowing with jobs; it’s not like companies are hiring for the sake of it. Make sure you show a hiring manager that you have taken the time to merely write a letter to show your interest in their job position. If you don’t bother showing an interest in them, the hiring manager will have no interest in you.
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