The cover letter you choose for transmitting your resume to an employer or important networking contact can be one of the most significant factors in the success(or failure) of your job-hunting campaign. In fact, a survey of nearly 600 employment professionals, conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), suggests some 76% of employers may automatically eliminate an employment candidate from any further hiring consideration, based solely on the quality of his or her cover letter alone. Further, 43% of survey respondents also reported they view the cover letter as equal to the resume in importance. When it comes to running an effective employment campaign, therefore, this data should cause you to sit up and take notice! (Note: A copy of the full survey, which covers both cover letters and resumes, can be obtained by contacting SHRM by phone, (703) 548-3440, or by e-mail at SHRM.org.)
If well written and informative, the cover letter can grab the reader’s attention, raise his curiosity, and stimulate immediate interest in your employment candidacy. In fact, if particularly well written, it can sometimes raise sufficient interest to compel the reader to extend an interview invitation without reading the resume document to which it is attached.
By contrast, a poorly written cover letter can be disastrous to an otherwise successful job-hunting campaign, serving as an immediate roadblock to any further consideration of your employment candidacy. The way it is organized, what it says, how it is stated, what is included / excluded, what is highlighted/emphasized— all are critical factors impacting cover-letter effectiveness. Cover letters that are poorly conceived and fail to give due consideration to these important factors can (and will) prove devastating, causing employers to discard both the cover letter and the companion resume accompanying it.
As an employment professional, with years of experience, I am continuously amazed that people will invest hours (or sometimes days) in the preparation and design of the “perfect” resume, yet spend little or no time writing the cover letter that serves as the overlay document that introduces their employment resume and summary of professional credentials. This is the print equivalent of wearing a dirty, rumpled, ill-fitting suit over a well-starched, clean, white shirt to the job interview.
A "Secret Sentence" you can use to land more job interviews and job offers?