Most people applying for jobs today neglect what in many instances is the most improtant document in the job search process, the professional cover letter.  A professional cover letter introduces yourself to the prospective employer, defines the position you are applying to and details why your qualifications warrant further review.

Many companies today will use the cover letter as a pre-qualifying document to determine whether or not they want to look at your resume.  Also, more and more companies are using the cover letter as a writing sample to make sure the candidate can string thoughts together in a concise and well defined manner.  With that in mind, many of my clients will say, “If that is the case, let’s forget the cover letter.  Why take the chance of messing something up that hurts my candidacy.”  In theory it makes sense, but from a practical view it is a mistake.  Here is why.

Only 30% of job seekers submit both a resume and cover letter as part of an initial application, yet 72% of initial resume reviewers will gravitate to those candidates that submit both a resume and cover letter as part of their initial submission.  This means from a statistical point of view, submitting both a resume and cover letter increases your chance of an initial document review by approximately 35%.

With this data in mind, it is important to remember that there are hundreds of applicants for any one position.  Your cover letter needs to stand out.  As such, your cover letter should be a finely strucutred synopsis of your resume, highlighting specific aspects of your work history that qualifies you for the position in question.  It should be no more than four paragraphs and readable within about 15 to 20 seconds.

When considering whether or not a cover letter presents value to your candidacy, our recommendation is go with the cover letter for a more professional presentation.

Action Resume Service is a professional and executive resume writing and career development company serving a nationwide client base for the past 23 years.  To learn more about professional and executive resume writing and career development services, visit www.actionresume.com or call us at 610-613-3907.

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