Cover letters are a way for you to explain yourself to an employer. Where as a resume
can be sent to many different employers, a cover letter must be customized to suit each
employer you contact. The cover letter can be used to inquire about job openings or to
apply for a particular position. The most important function of a cover letter, however, is
to entice the person who reads it to go on to your resume. If your cover letter does not
sell you effectively, then your resume may never be read.
A cover letter should always be used when mailing resumes to prospective employers. A
cover letter introduces you and your resume. It may be the first contact you have with
potential employers. Therefore, it is important that it be well written, neat in appearance
and business like. Keep your cover letter to four short paragraphs and be sure to mention
your enclosed resume. Each cover letter should be individually typed. Your letter does
not to cover the same ground as your resume. It should merely sum up what you have to
offer and act as an introduction for your resume.
Many times, you will be responding to an ad from the classified section of a newspaper.
When this happens, you will be applying for a job without first meeting the employer. A
cover letter is like an introduction. It should be tailored specifically to the job to which
you are applying. Mention the ad and the date of the newspaper. Then, address the needs
the employer advertised. For example: Say the ad says "Seeking person with knowledge
of spreadsheets. Must be well organized and task oriented. Person should have
experience with desk-top publishing. “You need to explain how you possess all these
skills. Explain that you have been using spreadsheets for the past two years. Explain
how you are well organized and task oriented. Detail your experience with desk-top
publishing. When you are finished showing how you are perfect for the job, close the
letter by saying that you look forward to hearing from the employer soon. Send a copy of
your resume along with the cover letter.
83% of Human Resource professionals spend less than one minute, on average, reading a
single cover letter. Large organizations (more than 250 employees) spend one to thirty
seconds reading a cover letter. Large organizations, such as these, have numerous
positions open at the same time, therefore giving them limited time to spend on each
cover letter. However, small organizations (less than 250 employees) spend 31 to 60
seconds reading a cover letter. Small organizations have less positions open, therefore
they can spend more time reading a cover letter.
Key Reasons Cover Letters Fail
76% Fail - typos or grammatical errors
61% Fail - addressed to wrong company
23% Fail - letter is too long
15% Fail - addressed to wrong person