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Cover Letters – Are they still relevant?

Resumes are impersonal and only tell part of your story.   Of course you need the skills and experience to do the job but an employer wants to know who you are, what makes you special and how you can be an asset beyond performing your job duties.

  • Are you a good fit for their culture?
  • Will you add energy and enthusiasm to the team?
  • Will your outside interests complement your role, allowing you to bring fresh ideas to the table?

From our experience, candidates rarely use cover letters today.  This makes them an excellent tool to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.   But what should you put into a cover letter?

First of all, a cover letter should NOT regurgitate your resume.  Rather, consider the cover letter your self-promotion and marketing vehicle that is personalized to your recipient.  Your goal is to grab the attention of your reader, connect with them on a personal level that opens them up to wanting to learn more, and then sell them on your character, energy, interests and personality.To do this, think through the following questions.

  • How am I different?
  • What is it about the organization that is appealing to me?
  • Do I know anyone in this organization?  Is there anyone in the organization that has a connection with my network?  If so, is there a common thread that I can mention and relate on like where we went to school or a blog post I found interesting?
  • What is my personal story that makes me relevant to them?
  • How does this position fit into my personal goals and career plans?
  • Why would I want to hire me and why should they want to hire me too?
  • What are my interests and outside-work activities that make me interesting and unique?
  • What am I passionate about and what motivates me?
  • What do I bring to this organization outside my skills and expertise?

How an employer feels about you weighs into the decision making process.  Resumes alone are impersonal.  Use the cover letter to connect with the reader on a personal level to establish a positive impression and dialog that is authentic and unique to you.

Keep in mind, there are no rules to the cover letter so be creative!  Your cover letter could be a link to a video, a physical book or a color digital magazine article about you with pictures and factoids.  As long as you accurately and authentically show who you are in a way that is relevant and personal to your target recipient, you are well on your way to being noticed and getting a first interview.

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