Think of the cover letter like beautifully crafted icing on top of a delicious and important cake. The cake is an essential component, but neither the cake nor the icing are nearly as good when they are eaten on their own. In comparison, your cover letter should always accompany your resume, and emphasize, expand, and complement several key points related to the employer’s needs. Just like a good cake, it has to be professional, well-crafted, interesting, and impressive! It should encourage the employer to want to read through your resume and persuade them to meet with you to further explore your qualifications.
It is common to question why a cover letter is needed and whether or not recruiters or employers even read it. There are definitely some companies that are too busy to read cover letters, but there are many managers at small and medium sized companies that do take the time to skim through them. Truthfully, we cannot know for sure what each and every employer or recruiter reads or relies on when deciding on whom to interview. However, if your resume has been shortlisted, your cover letter could set you apart from other candidates. By submitting both a tailored resume and cover letter, you will increase your chances of being screened in. Preparing a well thought-out, personalized, customized, and compelling cover letter is an effective job search strategy that can give you an advantage over other applicants.
There are two types of cover letters that you can prepare:
- Targeted: A targeted cover letter is written in response to a specific job posting and is the most commonly used type of letter. You customize the content of your letter to match the job requirements listed in the advertisement. Your cover letter should provide concrete examples from your experience of how you have demonstrated the qualifications listed. This type of letter is typically used when submitting applications online or emailing your documents directly in response to a position.
- Generalized: A generalized cover letter can be used when you are applying to a company, but you are unaware of the positions that they are hiring for. This type of letter might be used when attending a career event where multiple employers are present but the available jobs are unknown. You can also prepare a generalized cover letter for when you find yourself in an unplanned networking situation; your letter will provide your contact with information highlighting your professional accomplishments.