The Free Resume Cover Letter Template Trap
Why Free Resume Cover Letter Templates Are Free
For many a harried job seeker, the idea of a free resume cover letter template seems like a dream come true. With a free resume cover letter template to work from, the job seeker can just print up a cover letter or cut and paste it into an email to get the job of his or her dreams without any writing effort.
There's only one problem with this dream --- it's not going to come true.
Sure there are plenty of places offering free resume cover letter templates for job seekers. A bookstore is one place to find more free resume cover letter templates than you can shake a whole forest of sticks at. Walk into the nearest Borders or Barnes & Nobles and I bet that you will see --- somewhere behind the coffee shop --- the Jobs and Career section. This section contains entire shelves written and sold to desperate applicants who want that extra edge in the quest for jobs, and think that copying down someone else's words are the way that will happen for themselves.
Why the Free Resume Cover Letter Template Isn't Worth It
The Internet is another prime hunting ground for free resume cover letter template samples. Just go online and do a search for any one of those words and you'll have literally thousands of sites to choose from to download free resume cover letter templates.
The creators of those sites will try to tell you that these free samples will have what it takes to shine among the dozens or hundreds of competing resumes and cover letters that the Hiring Manager will need to read for any job opening.
Don't believe these authors or those sites without subjecting their claims to the bright light of reason and logic. For most items in this world, value or usefulness is typically accompanied with some sort of price tag. In other words, if it's any good, people will be willing to pay for it.
In Business, Free is a Four Letter Word
Consider some of the items that are given away for free in our daily life.
Old, worn-out, unfashionable clothes for instance. Moth-eaten coats, faded t-shirts and skidmarked underwear are frequently donated to places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army when their owner decide they don't want to wear them anymore.
Bad advice is another item that people can't seem to give away for free fast enough.
You may be the most unpopular person in the room, but once you let it be known that you have a problem or are trying to decide what to do about something, everywhere you turn there will be someone chattering in your ear about your best course of action.
If you do enough listening, however, you'll probably note that the subjects that the people are advising you on aren't ever the subjects that they know anything about. And just about 100 percent of the time you'll learn that the advice-giver has never actually followed the advice that he or she is giving you for free.
In other words, it's useless.
In my opinion, free resume cover letter templates fall in this same category. If a resume cover letter template was specific, lively and persuasive enough to get someone a job, then that cover letter template would be very valuable indeed to job seekers. They would consider it an INVESTMENT of their money, to purchase the use of that resume cover letter sample and would gladly pay hard earned cash for it.
Chances are the free resume cover letter template is free because it has problems that make it unable to do the job of an effective cover letter: to land interviews that land jobs.
How a Cover Letter Can Fail
There are a couple of reasons why it might be ineffective. It's possible that the writer of the free resume cover letter template just doesn't understand the tasks that a truly standout cover letter must do. Not everyone is aware of the selling job that a great cover letter can do, or the persuasion techniques that a writer can use.
Or perhaps the free resume cover letter template is simply too generic to do the candidate justice for the job in question. Different types of jobs --- whether entry level or executive, sales or technical, professional or creative --- require slightly different approaches to highlighting the candidate in the best possible manner. It's highly unlikely that a candidate will just happen to come across a free resume cover letter template that matches up perfectly with the kind of cover letter that he or she needs written.
Another strike that free resume cover letter templates have against them is that they are unoriginal. A lot of these cover letter templates all tend to use the same types of phrases over and over again. As a job seeker, you don't really get exposed to that many cover letters except the few that you send out. But Hiring Managers and human resources workers see hundreds, if not thousands of cover letters each month.
As a result, they very quickly learn to recognize then a letter is just copied out of a book or off of the Internet. When that happens, their attention to the contents of that letter pretty much evaporates. After all, why would anyone want to listen to something when you've already heard it a million times before?
Even more than losing the Hiring Manager's attention, a stale, over-copied, obviously form letter loses the reader's respect. Copying a free cover letter resume template send s the message that the letter send is unable to communicate effectively for themselves, is unable to think originally, and doesn't have a problem using someone else's work as his or her own.
These aren't exactly the kinds of attributes that make Hiring Managers grab for the phone and start scheduling interviews with candidates. As a matter of fact, those are the kinds of attributes that inspire them to wad up the free resume cover letter template into a tight ball and see if they can get it into the trash can from behind the desk.
So if the free resume cover letter template isn't the way to get the job interview, what is?
The Alternative Is Obvious
Very simply, the answer is a well-written, original cover letter tailored to the job in question. This letter has three main tasks that it must accomplish to be a success.
First, the letter should attract the attention of the Hiring Manager over the competing claims of all the other resumes in the inbox or email account. There are a couple of great ways to do this. The most straightforward, however, is a simple ALL CAPS headline at the top of the body that distills the qualifications of the candidates into a one line sentence.
EXPERIENCED MANAGER READY TO TAKE ON NEW CHALLENGES IMMEDIATELY, for example, lets the Hiring Manager know exactly what he or she can look forward to learning about the candidate in the rest of the letter.
Second, the letter must sell the candidate. What this means in the context of a cover letter, is that the letter makes it very clear that the candidate is the perfect solution to the business problem that the Hiring Manager hopes to fix with the hire. To prove this point, the convincing cover letter uses all the relevant information... the qualifications of the candidate, their experience, their education and training. Most of all, the effective cover letter uses examples from the candidates job history where he or she has solved problems IDENTICAL to the one's that the target company faces.
Lastly, the letter must tell the Hiring Manager in a clear and understanding way what he or she must do next to get the candidate into the job and solving problems ASAP. In most cases, the next step is to call the candidate and set up a phone, then in-person interview. This seems like a simple concept, but you would be surprised how many letters don't actually come out and ask for the call and interview.
Though it may seem like a lot of work to write a letter like this, the fact is that with a little bit of practice just about anyone can pull it off. The payoff is that any job seeker that follows these guidelines is sure to have a cover letter that will stand up to and vanquish all the other, wimpy, copycat cover letters in the Hiring Manager's inbox. Which means that while the copiers and cutters and pasters of the free resume cover letter templates are sitting at home wondering when they'll hear back from the target employers, the writer of the original, clear, logical letter is getting in the car and driving off to his or her first day on the new dream job.
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