The Cover Letter is not without controversy
and not without potential big benefits for you.
Some companies require one. Some Recruiters will read Cover Letters that are not required. Some Recruiters ignore or discard them. So what do you do?
Do a Cover Letter. Despite the chance, it may be a waste of your time and paper, it can give you an advantage in tight competition and dispell concerns over other perceived concerns in your history.
Generally, a cover letter is the quick way to show the advantages a company receives in hiring you. Some Cover Letters are a bulleted list of your strengths. Some are a classic "T Letter" showing their requirements on the left and your background and skills to the immediate right. Then there is the Matrix Cover Letter for greater impact.
In Word, for compatibility purposes, create a matrix with the first column wider than the others to showcase the position requirement or desired skills or experiences for the position. Create additional columns to the right for each job you have held that apply to the listed requirements, desired skills or experiences. Across the top create a column heading to show which column is what job or date. Within each row within the column, indicate if you learned, developed or used that skills. This shows the reader not just that you have it but showcases how much experience and over what time period. This WILL gain attention because:
(1) it is eye catching and different from anything seen before from a candidate,
(2) it provides great detail into your skills without reading it (like a bar chart)
(3) it documents your claims in an easy to read format that stands out
(4) provides the opportunity for them to ask questions about skills at what
(5) most managers love it as it is similar to tracking and performance reports
One area of great value has been to explain your departure. In some industries,
employees come and go and not from poor performance or skills but from changes in the company revenues. Layoffs due to revenue shortfalls, discontinued products, mergers and acquisitions and just bad management ... they all happen. Companies dump good people when things get really ugly for everyone. Make that distinction especially when you have a list of accomplishments, awards and recognitions to support your departure.
Examples of Cover Letters
Google is sometimes called the vacuum cleaner of the Internet as it sucks up
just about everything out there. As such you can do a search using the needed
keywords such as "cover letter executive secretary" and get some examples. There
are companies who will write one for you; we suggest you save your money. Use
their example for ways to tailor your own Cover Letter with improvements plus
your specifics. It's free and available at your fingertips through the Internet.
The secret is keeping it short, sweet and to the point with a high impact to the reader as more than one page may be cause for someone just to ignore it.
Explaining Employment Duration
An article written by a recruiter discusses how, at least this recruiter, considers your employment duration at each company and what significance exists. His perspective is one of concerns and suggestions in how to mitigate those concerns in your Cover Letter.
Yet another reason to include a Cover Letter with each submission!