Sunday, February 18, 2007

Cover Letters Are More Important Than Resumes

As a long time recruiter, coach and teacher, I have seen many aspects of the Job Search process change over the years. And bar none, nothing has evolved more in your job search process than the art of good cover letter writing. Regardless of what you may been reading today or what other experts are saying, think of it as a process and you’ll understand it very clearly:

The Job Search Process:

- I need a job or a better job

- I need a company to notice me and for them to call me

Isn’t that it in a nutshell? Nothing else matters! The process today is simply getting noticed enough to have a company go to the next stage.

- cover letter = first level of interest

- resume = your obvious qualifications

- job interview = determines your hire ability

The real you comes out in your cover letter, it’s an introduction and in that simple introduction you have to make that Real You stand out. We already assume that your resume qualifies you, but with a better cover letter as your introduction, the rest just doesn’t matter. If they don’t get past the cover letter, your qualifications, as great as they may be, just won’t get the recognition they deserve. That’s as simple as I can put it.

Resumes need to be good, whether they are functional or chronological. But at the end of the day, they don’t get tweaked too much. Altered slightly to best fit the job at hand yes, but that is still only a minor alteration. After all your resume is a blueprint at best, where you’ve been, what you’ve achieved, core competencies etc. There is only so much you can tweak in that area. But your cover letter now, is the real challenge. It needs to be altered for every possible career opportunity. Anything less is a template cover letter!

Your cover letter always needs to be tweaked exactly right for every job you apply for. These days the template cover letter is absolutely dead. They will never stand out, as everyone else is sending exactly the same thing, that’s what templates are, a sort of cookie cutter approach. And trust me, recruiters have seen thousands of letters, a stand out letter is rare and does just that, it really stands out when you write from the heart, a genuine, sincere and real person behind the word, gets noticed every time.

Remember the process. A recruiter reads your cover letter, when it’s interesting enough, they want to read your resume, where you detail your already qualified status and thus an job interview is arranged. But that process is all about your cover letter first!

Think of it this way, from a recruiter’s point of view. I receive 100 letters and resumes and all the resumes are about the same quality. How do I decide who to interview. Again, it’ll always come back to that amazing cover letter, that real you, they read as your introduction. This is the area we struggle with, as we are actually selling ourselves in the cover letter, like it or not, that’s exactly what you are doing. Telling your story yes, but really and truly Selling Selling Selling! Afterall do you want this job or not .. ok then, sell yourself! The resume doesn’t sell you, it’s a blueprint, a static page of information. They have to get through the cover letter to get to the resume. So the bottom line is prepare your resume first, you’ll need that as reference when writing a truly solid sales cover letter of introduction.

After your cover letter, the next obvious skill you really need to master is the art of the job interview itself. Again, that’ll come down to being real and your ability to articulate and communicate well any of your skills, experiences etc. Most people dread the job interview and rightly so, one needs to properly prepare. But most people don’t even get a job interview because they missed the single most important step, the cover letter.

I don't do this often, but there is one service out there that I do truly believe will give you the magic you need in cover letter writing. His name is Jimmy Sweeney and he’s been at it a very long time. In fact he has helped about 20,000 job seekers just like you. I would not hesitate to recommend his service or at the very least, suggest you read through his web site and see what his take is on cover letter writing overall. I have included a link to Jimmy’s website.

To Your Job Search Success!