During a recent military-to-civilian job fair, I was asked the following question: “Is a cover letter really necessary?” I stated that it is better to have it than not have it.”
I’ve heard multiple recruiters discuss this question and while there are many times when a cover letter may not be required, I believe they should never be ignored during any job search. After all, wouldn’t it be great if an employer could hear your voice while reading your cover letter? This is only 1 of the things having a cover letter can do for you. Here are a few others:
- Explain your military expertise: Imagine your cover letter as the key opportunity to talk about your military career and what you plan to do next. Use it to strategically make the connection between what you did in the military and the job opportunity by highlighting your leadership and transferable skills.
- Show your knowledge: If you’ve done research on an organization, you will be well positioned to talk about current initiatives, activities, and goals. Search Google, read reports, and follow discussions to gain a competitive edge on what’s going on inside of an organization. If you attended a job fair, be sure to highlight any material and names within at least the first paragraph.
- Demonstrate follow through: You will always want to conduct thorough follow up and follow through which can be illustrated by the cover letter. Feel free to add a specific day and time when you plan to call and speak with the hiring manager. If you are unable to get in touch with them, send a follow up email. Also, ask for an in-person interview.
Overall, a cover letter should be a complement to your resume. It should never be a template and must be tailored to each position, same as your resume. If, by chance, you don’t need a cover letter, use it for talking points during your 30-second summary. No matter what, it is a necessary component of your military-to-civilian job search.