What’s the Point of a Cover Letter?

What’s the Point of a Cover Letter?

By Kimberly Spikes

I get asked a lot about whether a cover letter is still important in today’s world of work. The short answer (as with many things job-search related), is, it depends. The key determining factor in whether or not you should carefully craft a cover letter is to look at whether the company is actually asking for one or not. If a company isn’t mentioning a cover letter, or they make it optional as an inclusion with your resume, then either don’t include one or at least don’t spend a lot of time on it. Just fill in the company and job-specific elements of a cover letter you’ve used in the past.

BUT! If the company you’re applying to does require a cover letter, then it’s worth taking the time to go beyond simply filling in the company’s details, and write a customized message to them. If the company requires a cover letter, then they are likely using the cover letter as a key element in their initial screening process — or, in other words, it’s far more likely someone actually will read it!

So, what do I mean when I say, write a customized message to the company? Well, the cover letter is a great opportunity to go beyond your resume in providing another voice and further insight into who you are and how you align to the organization — not only with your skills and experience, but also in terms of your values alignment and your passions.

Read the company’s pages around “Careers,” “About Us,” “Our Team,” etc. How do they talk about themselves — who they are, who their audience is, and what they believe in. What do they prioritize? How do they describe their culture? How do they talk about their customer/user/guest, etc.? If the company calls their HR folks their People team, then address the letter accordingly using the same nomenclature (of course, that’s assuming you aren’t able to identify the hiring manager directly).

Your resume is the most important place to talk about your skills and experience; the cover letter is where you can highlight the most relevant skills and experience for their job posting, but it’s also where you need to tell your story to the company about how else you match up with what they’re looking for to add to their culture. Love their mission statement? Mention it in the opening paragraph as the reason you’re excited to apply! Can’t get enough of their products? The cover letter is where you let them know.

And, while it’s important to keep an overall tone of professionalism in the cover letter, this is also where you can show off a bit more of your personality than in the resume. As you review the company’s pages as described above, jot down keywords or even emotions that come to mind for you – then weave language into your cover letter that matches that tone.

Got a question on resume writing, cover letters, or job searching? Let us know! We live and breathe this stuff every day, and we’d love to partner with you!

Recruiters, Respond!

Recruiters, Respond!

By Ginger Robitaille, PHR COO & HR Generalist

We all know what it is like to be a job seeker; scouring the internet sites for the perfect position, connecting with old colleagues to see if they may have a lead on a job for us. The job search is a roller coaster ride of emotions and a lot of work! So, when a job seeker takes the time to apply for those opportunities, they are a perfect fit for and then they never hear anything back, it is incredibly frustrating!

Well, guess what, if you are a Recruiter reading this, you can do something about it. As a recruiting professional that has been involved in the industry in some capacity for more than a decade now, this is a call to action! Recruiters, Respond!

If we do not respond to applicants and candidates to let them know if they are still in the process or not and WHY then who will? Now I know, your responsibility is to focus on finding the best candidates for the positions you need to fill, but how about helping a job seeker out?! Not only that, helping yourself from having to answer additional emails and phone calls from applicants and candidates when they have not heard from you.

This “wonderful” technology called ATS’ (Applicant Tracking Systems) are supposed to help us review and respond quicker to applicants but are we using it to its full extent of support. Make sure to set up multiple templates, so even if someone gets more of a “form” response at least they know whether they are still in the running. These templates can be so simple, “Thank you for your application, but we have moved forward with candidates that already have experience in this industry”. Or, “Thank you for your application, but we have chosen to move forward with applicants that have direct experience in this role”.

And GOODNESS GRACIOUS, if you have moved an applicant to candidate status and have conducted a phone screen or even moved them past that to a video or face-to-face interview, responding on their status is a MUST! Over and over again I speak with job seekers that went through a portion or all of the interview process to never hear back on why they weren’t selected. They spend days, weeks, thinking they are still being considered. Let us lean on what we learned in our childhood years, “treat others the way you would want to be treated”. And heck why not pay it forward! If we can share with an applicant or candidate why they did not move forward in the process or weren’t offered the job, we can help them refine and improve their job search going forward.

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