The cover letter affords you the opportunity to express yourself in a way you simply can’t in a resume. Resumes are structured and predictable. Cover letters aren’t. The cover letter is also the first impression you’ll give a potential employer, so you’ll want it to be good.
Cover Letters Equal Expression
Lisa McQuery of Demand Media believes that cover letters matter because of the way they enable job applicants to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. She explains that the introductory portion of a cover letter “can be used to express a genuine interest in aspects of the company to which [the applicant] is applying.” When you demonstrate particular knowledge of a company, something that would be difficult, if not impossible on a resume, you’ll convince the employer that you’ve done your homework.
Cover Letters Reveal More Than Resumes
Over at Forbes, Carolina Ceniza-Levine offers similar advice, noting how “the cover letter… can speak to the reader differently than the list structure of a resume.” A resume, while revealing, is only surface. A cover letter is more of a look into your soul. It can also be creatively written and “doesn’t have to be chronological like a resume, so you can talk about things in a different order or emphasize different points of your career.”
Cover Letters Are Expected
Communications internship advisor, Angela Ruggiero, says, “I see red flags when there is no cover letter along with a resume. The absence of cover letters translates to me that the candidate is lazy and is sending resumes in masses, rather than customizing to each individual company of interest.”
A missing cover letter equates to a lack of professionalism. Employers also want to see that you can write, which would be hard to grasp from a resume. Remember, a cover letter is your chance to sell yourself to the company and convince the potential employer that he or she needs what you have to offer. A resume can do some of that, but not all.
In China and Asia, a region of the world where many from across the globe are looking for job and internship opportunities, the cover letter also matters. For instance, if you’re looking for a job in China or an internship in China the cover letter (along with any subsequent interview, of course) is an opportunity to express why you believe you would be suitable not just for the job, but for the position in China. Why are you interested in the position in the specific country, of all places? There’s an added element here that can be conveyed in the cover letter.
The cover letter puts a face to a name, a person to a resume and communicates to the employer that the job applicant has done his or her homework and taken the time to write a letter specific to the position. This investment, this level of commitment, does a lot to convince an employer that the applicant would be a worthwhile addition to the organization.