We had a really interesting discussion on the topic of cover letters at a recent dinner for the RACI Mentoring Programme. There was a surprisingly large discrepancy in the mentors’ views towards cover letters. Some, like myself, place a much higher value on the cover letter, while others hardly read them.
So why the large difference? It became clear that it very much depends on the job. An employer whose staff were more dedicated to routine instrumental analysis placed the highest weighting on the resume – were the desired technical skills present or absent?
I sat at the opposite end of the spectrum. My employees need to be technically competent (of course), but the distinguishing feature for candidates is a somewhat less definable ‘flair’. The nature of our work requires candidates who can communicate exceptionally well, who are independent and intuitive, and while a resume can’t necessarily tell me that, the cover letter can hint at some of the skills needed for success in a role with DCS Technical – such as attention to detail and good communications.
My advice: Take the trouble to compose a really good cover letter. It won’t make any difference to those employers who focus on your resume, but with employers like me it will mean the difference between getting the interview or not.