It’s just the way people are – if you don’t get to do something over and over again, you don’t really learn the ropes. If you’ve just been out looking for a job once or twice before, and that was a while ago too, you might find that your head fairly spins trying to work out everything you need to do a get a job now. How important is it to wear a tie? What kind of handshake do they expect, and do you shake the hand of everyone on the panel, or just the head honcho? What details would they like to see in a resume, and what would seem superfluous? But there is one question lots of job seekers have that should be easy to answer by now – the question of the part played by the cover letter for resumes. Seen one way, a cover letter has always been a part of a job application, and things seem bare without one; and, on the other hand, we live in an age where people casually dispense with all niceties communicating through e-mail – no one feels it is worth the time it takes to begin an e-mail with a “Dear Mr.” and end it with a “Sincerely”. Isn’t that a clear sign that the cover letter for resumes is just an anachronysm? The answer is that the rough and ready e-mail and text message rule does not apply to the job hunt. These are people who are nervous about whether hiring you is possibly the wrong thing. They expect every kind of gesture to help quell their fears. The thing is that at the point you approach a hiring manager working for an employer, resume in hand, you don’t really have a relationship with the company. As sincere as you are, it gets very difficult to see anything special about an application among a hundred others. The cover letter is your initial smile and Hello! from you when the hiring manager gets around to your application. It helps set your application rolling on a pleasant note. And there are things that they get to see on your cover letter that they won’t actually see in the abbreviated way a resume is written – they get to see how you can be persuasive with your writing, not to mention how your abilities with words meet a certain minimum standard in grammar, punctuation and attention to detail. Put yourself in the recruiter’s place – you’re someone with a hundred similar-looking job applications, and it is your job to weed out the substandard ones. Wouldn’t you be just aching for some excuse to do the weeding quickly? As a job applicant, you need to set out expecting to be weeded out by default. A cover letter for resumes is your first step to mounting your defense. So now that you’re primed on the value of a cover letter for resumes, how do you go about drafting one for maximum effect? The first thing to understand is that the cover letter, as much as it appears to be about you, is actually about the employer. Your cover letter is your advertisements going out to work for you. You want to think of how TV advertisements are – they’re not ever telling you how great they are – they’re always telling you how great they are at making you happy. Your cover letter is all about convincing them that you are better at making them happier than anyone else. Read the company’s job posting really closely. Read between the lines and read each word to find out exactly what you believe they are looking for. And with every sentence on your cover letter, address the things their post tells you they want. It’s a wonder that no one teaches you this in school. When you ask for work, you’re supposed to tell them how your qualifications go directly to addressing what they want. If you don’t do this for them, they’re just not going to see you as someone who is a match for the job. Of course, just because the cover letter for resumes is completely essential, that’s not to be taken to mean that you’re to write a cover letter, print it on paper and stuff it into the letter box. In the e-mail age, companies see a paper application as really old school and a bother. They don’t even expect you to send them an e-mail application with a resume and the cover letter attached. Instead, it’s just a resume that you attach as a separate thing; the ‘cover letter’ today is just a couple of paragraphs you write in the body of the e-mail. And that’s where you show what you’re good at.