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> I always expect cover letters from applicants because it's
> another way for
> me to review their writing, editing, and layout skills before I decide
> whether to interview them. A well-written cover letter also
> shows me that
> the applicant is interested in the job. Yes, I know applying
> for jobs is
> time-consuming, but you've got to do what you can to get an interview.
> Otherwise, why bother applying?
Exactly. Anyone who doesn't do the best cover letter they can for a job is
throwing away their big chance, and anyone who tells you you don't need one
is giving you an excuse to waste your time.
Every element of the job hunting process has a specific purpose:
The job of the cover letter is to get someone to read your resume.
The job of the resume is to get you an interview.
The job of the interview is to get you a second interview (or to get you the
job, depending on the circumstance).
The job of the second interview is to close the deal.
Cover letters are especially important because unless you redo your resume
for each job you apply to (a near impossible task), the cover letter acts as
a guide telling someone how to read your (more general) resume, and what to
pay attention to. The cover letter is your chance to put a spin on your
resume, and it's the only chance you've got, so take it.
A single page cover letter can easily take an hour to write. I've spent
more than an hour on cover letters before, but often to good effect. The
last cover letter I wrote was for my fiancee and it actually got her the
interview all by itself. After getting the job, she found out that the guy
doing the hiring read the cover letter and stuck her application in the
interview pile without even looking at her resume. A solid cover letter is
a tool at your disposal, begging to be used. Don't waste it!
Thank-you notes? I'd have to say 9 times out of 10, don't bother. The mail
takes too long, and if someone's really interested in you, they'll call. A
thank-you note isn't going to tip the scales in your favour, but sometimes
you just get a feel for these things that tells you, in such and such a
case, I better send a note. Ideally though, as Henry J. Kaiser said "When
your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." Ideally, you want your
interview to speak for itself.
(Speaking for myself, NOT Cognos)