Originally Posted by Johnny_5
You sir are fantastic and I appreciate all your input. At first I felt hopeless because my lack of extracurricular activities but you have helped me turn something basic into a great asset. It has been a tremendous help. Thank you.
You're welcome. I am only two years out of school but I found out a lot about resumes early. You would be surprised the number of intelligent people who apply for jobs with terrible resumes. So you have a leg up on a large number of the applicant pool.
Originally Posted by dtmt
Seriously, what employer these days actually has the time to sit around reading cover letters? If someone actually sent a cover letter with there resume to my company, the recruiter would toss it before it reached anyone else's desk.
You are right most hiring managers or HR drones barely glance at cover letters. However, being that it is your chance to make a first impression you want to ensure that those who read them like what they see enough to give your resume a close[r] look.
Originally Posted by rdawson808
In my experience a bad cover letter can kill your chances. But I guess if HR doesn't read them then it won't matter. I actually found them really enlightening as I was recently reading through applications. One came off as utterly arrogant so I skipped that candidate. Others, instead of addressing their letter (actually e-mails) "Dear Dr. XXX" wrote "Hey <my first name>. Huh? Skipped them too.
I was told early on that there are two philosophies about cover letters and CVs: one short the other long. Take your pick, but one of them has to explain why you're a good fit for the job. Again, though, this was for academia.
+1. In my recent experience looking to switch careers, I did a lot of work developing my cover letter writing approach. I went from quite long but descriptive letters (which I later decided no one would read) to very short but still descriptive letters. It is quite important to try to put together great ones because you never know when it helps your cause.
So my point of view: If applying to a position where you don't know or never met the hiring staff then the letter should be very formal and short (3-4 paragraphs ~100 words). If you know the person (alumni, or you have met or spoken before, or referred) you can be more descriptive (~200 words).
Less than 10 years of experience working (in a "normal" professional field) stick to 1 page resume.