While doing a Q&A session for students at the Pima Community College web design class, one of the questions I was asked was; What does an employer want to see as experience when applying for a web design job?
To me, there are a few critical components missed by most candidates that apply for a position with my company… and solving this screw up is a lot simpler than you might think! SUBMIT A COVER LETTER!
Let me share a big secret about our hiring process. When we have a job posted on our website, we will ask candidates to submit a cover letter, resume and relevant details about their background. The application form that they can fill out allows them to upload these pieces of information. The trick that most applicants fall right into is that we chose not to require any of those fields. So, they can leave any of the fields that we ask for blank.
A lot of applicants skip the cover letter. Why? I’m not sure, but I believe it’s the most critical to provide an employer a window into who you are, your background is and why you want the job.
Let’s face it most of the candidates are not perfectly aligned with what the position requires. You might NOT be the perfect fit, but that doesn’t mean you’re wrong for the job. There are a lot of candidates that don’t have the exact skills or exact experience going into a job as the employer might want and that’s OK.
I explain the importance of the cover letter this way: Nobody who is currently employed at my company submitted their application without a cover letter. In other words, if you don’t have a cover letter with your resume you are not going to get an interview. You are not going to get the job.
When writing a cover letter, let your passion and excitement for the position come through. Build trust by demonstrating both you ability to be sincere and why you’re competent to do the job. Explain how your job history is relevant and how activities that might not be on your resume make you a great candidate for the job. If there are any gaps in experience, how will you overcome those challenges? What are you already doing to learn and come up to speed?
If most employers have the same experience as I do, submitting a great cover letter is your best opportunity to set yourself apart from other qualified candidates.