When you graduated from school, a career councilor may have advised you to attach a cover letter to your resume. But when you are applying for a job online, you might want to rethink that.
Recruiters are always in a rush, skimming applications and resumes as fast as possible, looking for the needle in the haystack. They will only open resume attachments if they think that the job applicant is qualified. So you will have better luck if you give them a reason to open your resume attachment right up front. Don’t make the mistake of hiding your summary of qualifications in an attached cover letter.
If you attach a cover letter to your job application, some recruiters will skip it. That’s why you need to give recruiters a compelling reason to open your resume by putting your summary of qualifications right into the body of your email. This will give you a much better chance of getting them to look at your resume attachment and give you a call.
Do Traditional Cover Letters Work as Well as Email Introductions?
No. Email introductions are usually less formal than a traditional cover letter. Your reader is not going to be impressed by a long introductory sentence. Recruiters prefer to read a short description of what you’ve got to offer before they dive into your resume. But they are not likely to open another attachment to do so. So give them a reason to open your resume by listing your key skills and most relevant experience right in the body of your application email.
Where’s the Meat?
Guess what a recruiter sees when they read something like this:
The position requirements and my skills are a perfect match. As you’ll see on my enclosed resume, I have the educational background, professional experience, and track record for which you are searching. In addition, I am motivated and enthusiastic, and would appreciate the opportunity to contribute to your firm’s success.
When a recruiter see a sentence like that they think, “Blah, blah, blah.” That lovely little paragraph could apply to any job. It doesn’t give the recruiter any real understanding of whether you can actually do the job. So please be specific about your skills and experience and how you are a match for the job when you write your job application email.
Tell Us Why You are Perfect Match for this Specific Job
First, make sure to put the job title of the job you are applying for in the subject line of your email.
Second, include a list of 6 – 10 points about your qualifications that are specifically related to the job requirements. For example, here are some points you could include in your application email:
- I am currently working at ___________ doing ____________
- I worked on ___________ in _________for ____ months at _____________
- Number of years or months of hands-on experience in your area of expertise and with the required technologies
- Experience and training that shows your knowledge of the latest technology in the industry or field
- Evidence of your passion to learn and to increase your skills
- Measurable accomplishments and improvements you’ve contributed to projects you’ve been involved with. For example, “I increased ___________ by ___________ which lead to (successful outcome).” Or “I met and exceeded (these objectives) for _____ months in a row.”
- A link to your website, e-resume portfolio or online examples of your work
- Awards or special recognition you’ve received for your work
In a Nutshell
A formal cover letter may still be helpful if you’re applying for an executive level position. But if you’re applying to an online job post by email or through an application form, remember to reference the job you’re applying the in the subject line. Then summarize your key qualifications for that specific role in the body of your application email, and attach your resume.
What Do You think?
Are formal cover letters a thing of the past, or are they still an essential part of your professional profile?