Expert Says Cover Letters Are Still Key Components in the Job Hunt

INDIANAPOLIS—Too often, job seekers allow their assumptions to keep them from achieving employment. When it comes to cover letters, in particular, many job seekers mistakenly assume that if they are not specifically asked to submit a cover letter, it must not be important to the employer. This couldn’t be further from the truth. According to a Yahoo! HotJobs article, more than 80 percent of recruiters surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said cover letters are a "necessity.”

Simply put: The only assumption job seekers should make about their cover letter is that it will play a significant role in how hiring managers and recruiters perceive them.

“Cover letters offer a golden opportunity to link your set of skills, experience, talents and interests with a particular company or job. They are your formal introduction to people who can be influential in your job search, and they prepare your readers for all the details, experiences and accomplishments highlighted on your resume,” says Louise Kursmark, co-author of the recently released book 15-Minute Cover Letter, Second Edition.

In her book, Kursmark shares several winning strategies for crafting cover letters. And that’s just the beginning. She also reveals how to use cover letters to get on employers’ radar screens and secure interview opportunities. And, no, blasting hundreds of unsolicited resumes and cover letters is not a strategy she recommends!

Instead, consider the following tips. According to Kursmark, these actions are effective strategies for scoring face-to-face interviews.

  • Pack your P.S. with punch. Most people immediately jump to the P.S. portion of a letter and read it again after finishing the rest. With a P.S., you can close your letter on a particularly positive and powerful note. To do so, be sure the P.S. contains information valuable to the employer. You might mention how a skill or experience of yours relates to one of the employer’s current goals. You might also congratulate the reader on an achievement or media coverage.
  • Write to someone in particular. Avoid sending a letter “To whom it may concern.” If you don’t know the name of the person who will receive your letter, try searching Google or LinkedIn to uncover the name of the appropriate hiring manager or a contact in the human resources department.
  • “Drop names” to make an impact. One of the most compelling ways to begin the letter is to mention the name of a person who referred you. If don’t know someone connected to the employer, consider referencing an interview you might have seen or read about that featured quotes from someone employed at the organization.
  • Refer to your resume, but don’t repeat it word-for-word. Your letter should expand on the results, skills and success stories that are in your resume. Be sure to add more details about these points or blend two or three accomplishments from your resume into one powerful story in your letter.

15-Minute Cover Letter, Second Edition, is available at all major bookstores and from the publisher ( or 1.800.648.JIST). The author, Louise Kursmark, is immediately available for print, broadcast and online interviews. To speak with Kursmark or request a copy of her book, please contact Selena Dehne.

About JIST Publishing

JIST, America’s Career Publisher, is the leading publisher of job search, career and occupational information and empowers people of all ages to achieve long-lasting rewards in their careers.

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