Why You Still Need a Cover Letter

Your career portfolio is like a movie. Make it a blockbuster!
Your career portfolio is just like a movie. It has characters, a plot and most importantly a theme. With the name of this site being, Quality Resumes, it should come as no surprise that I hold the resume to be the star of your career portfolio. However, a good movie needs more than an exceptional leading man. Even the best actor can’t save a film with a weak plot, a stagnant theme or stereotyped supporting characters. Your resume is no different; it needs the support of social media profiles, work samples, letters of recommendation, and of course, a cover letter.

As resumes have moved from a past of specialized paper and fancy fonts to the digital age, many people have claimed the demise of the cover letter. Do not be fooled, a cover letter is just as important as ever. 

Why You Still Need a Cover Letter

Every good movie has a strong opening scene. Often the prologue will set up the entire plot by engaging the audience with the main character. A well written cover letter allows you to set up your resume. It acts like your movie’s prologue. The better your set up here, the more impact your resume will have. This is your chance to whet their appetite and make them eager to read your resume for the full story. 

While the format of the resume is fairly structured, the cover letter allows for some creativity. Here you can state exactly how your skills and experience meet the potential employer's needs. Try setting up a comparison chart with one side listing the job requirements and the other side listing how your skills match up. Not every application package is read in full. Many employers have already made up their mind by the time they have read your cover letter. Be sure yours hooks the reader into wanting more.

Cover Letters are Especially Important for Entry Level Positions

If you are applying for an entry level position your cover letter takes on added significance. Sticking with our movie analogy, let’s say an entry level career portfolio is like an indie film with no recognizable stars. You are new, so your resume by definition is going to be light. All the applicants to this job are likely to have similarly light resumes. In film, what makes you want to see a film with no big names attached is a riveting plot. Here again, your cover letter sets the stage for your career portfolio. This could be the only place you have to truly set yourself apart from the hundreds of other job applicants.

What to Include in Your Cover Letter

Now that you know it’s importance, you need to be sure to use the correct format and include the right information in your cover letter. In terms of format, this is a formal business letter so use a formal business letter template in your word processing program. In the body of the letter be sure to include the title of the position you are applying for, highlights of your skills and experience and close by thanking them in advance for an interview. 

Just like a movie can be derailed by a weak theme, dull plot or bad actors, your career portfolio needs a best effort from all its players. Don’t let a weak or missing cover letter cause yours to bomb.