The Truth About Cover Letters

The reality behind cover letters is something that not many job seekers understand. After all, what’s the point of a cover letter in the first place?

Most job seekers treat their cover letter as a banal document that formally introduces them as a candidate, usually rehashing their experience ad nausea.  Trust me, the generic form letter that recruiters see every day as boring for us to read. In my days as a recruiter, I hated them and considered them a complete waste of time, for this reason alone. Imagine being faced with reading the same generic form cover letter and resume over 200 times, just to fill one job!

Use your cover letter to stand out from the crowd

That is why, when done well, your cover letter can be your secret weapon that will quickly distinguish yourself from the crowd. Recruiters spend 6-10 seconds per resume, and you do not want them wasting those precious seconds on your cover letter. So, it is vital to maximizing the effectiveness of both!

Consider this: the actual purpose of your cover letter is not to get them to hire you. Its sole purpose is to intrigue a recruiter enough to flip over the page (or, in today’s terms, open the attachment), and look at your resume. That is it.

The purpose of your resume is to get them to pick up the phone and give you a call. The purpose of the cover letter is to get them to read your resume.

Your cover letter is your 30-second commercial (or elevator speech), your hard-core sales pitch. We need to get them interested and get them to flip the page and read your excellent resume. Think of your cover letter as the entry point for your personal marketing campaign!

Your cover letter must:


B) persuade them to look at your resume.

You can do this by revealing how you are the solution to their problems, and outlining the benefits of hiring you.

NEXT WEEK:  Using your cover letter to sell the sizzle!

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Not only the trailing spouse of a US State Department Foreign Service Officer, Julie Mendez once also held a clearance and served as the Community Liaison Office Coordinator at the US Embassy in Rome, Italy. Now a Career Coach and Certified Job Search Specialist with JSM Career Coaching, Julie Mendez serves as the lead Career Coach at’s “UnCareer-Fair” events. She believes her calling is to aid clients in finding fulfilling work that utilizes their unique talents. Julie Mendez can be reached at and