Dear Sam: I have no idea where to start when writing a cover letter, but I do think I have a pretty good résumé. Is it necessary to submit a cover letter when applying for a job? I’d prefer to just submit my résumé so I don’t have to write a new one for every job I am interested in. I’m finding I don’t apply for some positions as I can’t get over the stumbling block of writing cover letters to accompany my résumé. Help! – Tony
Dear Tony: A cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself to a prospective employer, expand on and personalize your résumé, and highlight how your skills and experiences will fulfill the employer’s needs. A cover letter should be a key part of every application, regardless of whether it is requested.
You should not have to create a new cover letter for each job you are interested in. If you have defined your career target when creating your résumé—meaning you know what you want to do, who you are marketing your candidacy to, and what language will attract his or her interest—then your cover letter will be developed using that information as your guide. When you have taken time to really understand what will trigger your target audience, and have incorporated that content into your application materials, your résumé and cover letter will not need to be modified each time you apply for a position. Keep in mind a cover letter not only expresses your interest in the company and/or position, but also gives the employer the opportunity to observe your attentiveness to detail, spelling, grammar, and quality of your written communication. Best to you.