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A Professional Cover Letter Sets the Tone
It is alarming at times, how little attention is paid to ensuring that a professional cover letter fronts an application for a job. Time and time again, job seekers overlook this vital document or treat it as secondary to the glowing and impressive resume attached. It is a dizzying misunderstanding of the hiring process, which can severely thwart your chances of success. The truth is that you have to regard your cover letter as equally important – if not more so – as your resume if you are to attract the attention of overworked and stressed-out hiring managers. It wouldn't matter so much if yours was the only one, or if they knew something about you personally that gave them confidence in you from the outset. But since that is never the case, you have to consider your cover letter to be your ambassador, a document that will speak for you and make an exciting introduction on your behalf.
In fact, it is the only opportunity you have to tell the hiring manager anything about yourself whatsoever. Your resume is a listing of facts and though these are important, they offer no indication of context. That you have achieved qualifications says nothing about the manner in which you achieved them, of the drive and commitment you have, or of the effort you go to in order to ensure success. You have no opportunity, other than your cover letter, to influence how the HR manager interprets your resume.
More Professional Cover Letter Considerations
In that, a professional cover letter enables you to initiate a conversation with the decision maker. Think of it as the opening of a novel in which the author attempts to set the scene. Of course there is no room here for strings of adjectives, but you can surely understand the analogy. Through your cover letter, you are getting an opportunity to explain to the HR manager what they should be reading into your resume, what they should understand from that and to highlight the items that are the most impressive. More to the point, it gives you the opportunity to be persuasive, to be a great ambassador which is enthusiastic about who you are and what you can do, rather than a tepid one, afraid to stick its head up over the walls of the hiring manager's inbox and state its case.
Depending on how you handle it, it can be either an effective, or wholly useless, sales tool for which you are the product. In this example, where your resume is an impressive set of facts and details about the product, which are important for the purchaser to know and understand, the cover letter gives them the crucial emotional element of the equation. If you were a car, your resume would be a list of features and specs, but your cover letter would be the equivalent of leather upholstery samples which a potential purchaser can feel and sniff. In other words, one of them justifies the decision to purchase, but the other one is that which really fuels their excitement and gets them signing an immediate order to purchase.
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