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Cover Letters for Resume Impact

Cover letters for resume impact can be a good strategy under certain situations. Although resume cover letters are often pooh-poohed by so-called career experts, they can be a game-changer for you under the right circumstances.

Fact: Companies rarely read them.

Why not?

Because they all sound the same and they rarely provide information that doesn't already exist on the resume. why even bother?

Your resume cover letter will be read--and makes perfect sense--if there is something in your job history that is out of sorts that has the potential to eliminate you as a serious candidate for the job.

10 Job History Problems Your Cover Letters for Resume Might be Able to Defuse:

  1. Several job changes
  2. Job loss due to layoffs and downsizing or a business closure
  3. Gaps in employment between jobs (Don't ever try to conceal this up by just changing the dates)
  4. You left employer A for employer B; then, left employer B to go back to employer A. Now, you want to leave employer A, again.
  5. You took a demotion
  6. Applying for a job outside of your industry or discipline
  7. No degree or an unusual degree.
  8. Returning to the workforce after a lengthy absence (church mission, homemakers, went back to college full time to complete degree or get an MBA, illness, care giver to ailing family member)
  9. Entire career spent with one company (especially 20+ years).
  10. You have a management position, but now prefer to step down to an individual contributor role.

Pearl of Wisdom: The interview screening process is nothing more than a prejudgment about you. It's not objective or fair. If you know how to play the game, you'll advance to the next level. As you move through each level of the job interview process, the real you is eventually revealed and understood by those judging you. Until then, hiring authorities tend to be overly critical and picky.
young boy writing a letter at a desk

The most important thing you can do is create a well written, nicely formatted resume.

Your resume is always read before your cover letter. People are in a big hurry these days and they want to cut right to the chase.

If the Look and Feel of your resume is excellent, and the information is presented in a concise, simple, logical way, it will draw the reader in, compelling them to keep digging deeper.

If one of the 10 resume problems pops up, this glitch will not be 10 feet high because...well... your resume looks good and is so well written.

In other words, you stand out from all the crummy resumes they're use to getting. You're a breath of fresh air, and now they are motivated to dig deeper to see if maybe you're a fit...despite the problem on your resume.

Now the reader will pick up your cover letter to explore further. Here is your chance to a manner of speaking:

Hey, I know what you're thinking about my 8 months of unemployment. But hold on a minute. I can explain. My company closed our operation and moved it to China. My job was eliminated and I've been looking for a job in a very tough economy.

Whoever is reading your cover letter can now forgive you for this glitch in your pedigree. Viola...they decide to schedule a phone interview.

The process begins.

The biggest mistake most people make when they write cover letters for resumes is to blab on and on and on about their skills and strengths (already on their resume); or worse yet, about their career wants and needs (has nothing to do with the open job requisition).

Special Tip: Focus more on what you can do for the company than what they can do for you. What problem(s) will be solved by hiring you?

Keep your cover letter short and simple. Give employers just enough information to calm their fears about you, but also build value. Save the rest for your job interview.

Example of Cover Letters For Resume

Dear Sirs,

I am seeking employment as a Sales Manager. I am willing to travel extensively and work long hours to meet or exceed company goals.

I lost my job when Slave Driver Corp sold off their widget division. Due to the intensity of the recession, I decided to return to Michigan State and complete my MBA. I am ready to return to the workforce and put my experience and education to work for my employer.

I have the following strengths:

  • Approach my goals in an analytical, systematic way
  • Clear thinker under pressure
  • Dependable, optimistic, and results oriented
  • Excellent teacher, trainer, and public speaker
  • Good at building long term relationships and quickly resolving conflicts and problems

As you can see on my resume, I have a solid track record of accomplishments. I’m not easily discouraged. I can thrive in large company cultures or small chaotic ones.

I always strive to over-deliver instead of just get by.

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss how I can add to your success.


Bud Tugley

c: 574-555-1212

Notice how this example cover letter is...

  • conversational in tone
  • less formal, uses "you" and "I"
  • uses short sentences and paragraphs
  • includes a short high-impact bullet list

Pearl of Wisdom: The one and only purpose of a resume, and cover letters for resumes, is to win an interview with a hiring authority. Don't oversell yourself...and risk getting screened out.

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