Why You Need A Cover Letter By Jeremy Cyrus 07/17/2012
Of all the portions of your job application, your cover letter is the most easy to personalize. Your application after all consists of boxes which you fill out—most of which will echo the information already included in your resume. With your resume, all you can do is list past duties and accomplishments. While those duties and accomplishments can paint a professional portrait of who you are, they cannot tell a hiring manager anything about you personally. And while you may not think that is relevant, you'd be surprised. You'll be giving a lot of your time to your job, and your company will be seeing a lot of you. It's a big part of your life, and it's only your personal qualities which are irreplaceable.
Anyone can carry out the duties required of them at previous jobs—and anyone can win awards. While your achievements say more about you than your duties, they certainly don't say why you were doing your job so well, and what your aims in life are. They don't tell a hiring manager why you want the job you're applying for, or why you'd be a better match for the position than anyone else applying.
Your cover letter draws attention to your motivations.
You should start out by listing your contact information and the job you're applying for, as well as a short paragraph about your background, but then you should go straight on into why you want the job. This is your one chance to really stand out from the crowd and prove what a unique person you are. The hiring manager will be far more likely to remember you if there is something which makes you distinctive as a person. It's easy to lose track of candidates' achievements since so many of them are so similar.
Is there something about the company's values which appeals to your own? Is there something special about the work environment itself? Will the job help bring you closer to achieving an important personal goal? What will the job actually mean to you if you get it—and how will that meaning reflect in your performance? The best employees are typically those to whom the job has real meaning—they are the ones who will go above and beyond the call of duty because they want to—not because they have to. These are the self starters, the ones who need minimal supervision and who can work well under varied circumstances.
In your resume cover letter, you draw attention to what makes you an individual. Anyone can achieve what you have—but not everyone can see the same value in the job that you can, and not everyone can inject that value back into the workplace. Tell the hiring manager exactly why you are the most suitable candidate, not based merely on your past accomplishments but also on who you are as a person, and you are much more likely to make an impression among so many interchangeable candidates.