Do employers really look at your cover letter? Is it worth spending a lot of time on one? If so, what’s the most important thing to include?
The answer depends on who you ask, according to a recent article in New Jersey Business News. Jane Angelich, a former vice president of human resources at the investment banking firm of Salomon Brothers, says the cover letter is even more important than the resume. That’s because with so many resumes looking and reading the same, the cover letter gives you a chance to really catch someone’s attention and differentiate yourself.
Others experts say many recruiters and human resource professionals simply put the cover letter aside and jump right to the resume.
However, one thing they agree on is that if you’re going to include a cover letter, it had better do two things well. First, it must be personalized. That means it must be addressed to a specific person, clearly indicating the investment banking job you’re applying for, and should focus on the specific needs of the company.
If you don’t know the specific person, you’ve got to do some sleuthing. Either call the organization and ask the receptionist, check LinkedIn or Facebook to see who might be doing the hiring, or contact a current or former employee of the firm to get the name of the person in charge of hiring.
Second, you’ve got to make it interesting, but in a way that’s relevant to the specific job being filled. Your job is to demonstrate how well you “fit” with the job. Some experts even suggest a two-column format that compares “company requirements” with “my qualifications.” That way you can link many of the key words the company uses to your own experience.
We want to know what you think.
What is your experience with employers and recruiters reading your cover letter? (leave a comment below)