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Cover Letters...do you REALLY need them? Noreen Brooks, Manager of the Newmarket Employment Resource Centre, Nov 9,2007

About Author

Noreen Brooks is the Manager of the Employment Resource Centre in Newmarket.

Is a cover letter necessary in today’s market….especially now in this world of emailing everything? Is it OK to send your resume as an attachment with a simple note saying “see attached resume”? Do you have to accompany your resume with a formal cover letter?

In a nutshell...the answer is YES! Always. One of York Regions’ top company recruiters says she never even considers a resume that is sent without one. It tells your employer exactly what position you are applying for and gives you a chance to highlight your experience and qualifications for that position.

Taking the time to compose an articulate, professional letter has many advantages. First and foremost...it acts as a letter of introduction to your resume. Are you answering an ad? If so...which one? Were you referred by a common acquaintance or business associate? Dropping a familiar name can be an excellent advantage when tapping into the hidden job market. “Fred Walker suggested that I contact you regarding the opening you have in marketing” . Remember…this is a personal correspondence. As the reader, nothing grabs your attention more than a familiar name.

It gives you an opportunity to tell the company what you can do for them. Always be thinking about answering the # 1 question on an employers mind. Why should they hire you? Think of your unique attributes and experience. What separates you from other candidates? What do you think you can do better than anyone else? What can you offer that no other candidate can?

Focus on their needs. Don’t ever forget that the employer is in his/her business to make a profit-whether it’s a company with 2, 20 or 200 employees. One of the biggest mistakes people make is focusing the introduction letter on how the company would fulfill their career dreams. Statements like “I’m looking for a progressive company that will develop my skills and provide an opportunity for career growth” are all about what they can do for you. Focus rather, on how you can help them. They want to know what you can do for their bottom line. This is a chance to match your unique work history and life experience to their needs. You might include how many employees you have supervised, how much money you’ve saved, how many accounts or customers you handled. Try your best to be a suitable fit for the position.

On the other hand...if you are successfully networking and are in the fortunate position to have someone place your resume on the desk of the decision maker along with a glowing referral about why they NEED to interview you….you may not need a cover letter. If you don’t...I highly recommend you write one.