Most jobs/industries require an ability to follow instructions and my industry, association management, is no different. As the CEO of TAPP and The Guild Associates as well as the executive director of a number of associations, I have to carry out the directives of the board and members.
When I advertise for a new staff member, I request that a cover letter accompany the resume. A no brainer – right? Wrong. At least 20 percent of the resumes arrive with no cover letter or an email note saying something like “attached is my resume, please call me with more information.” These individuals are immediately eliminated. If they can’t follow instructions and include a cover letter, then most likely requests from members will not receive a response.
What you initially submit in response to a job ad is my first impression of you. Do I know the ad to which you are responding? Does it appear that you have read and THOUGHT about this position? Can you communicate those thoughts clearly? Are there typos? Do you use capitalization? I sometimes receive emails with no capital letters. Is that how you would communicate with clients? If it is for a part-time position, have you acknowledged that fact?
There are two items in a job ad which aren’t in most ads. We have a dog in the office so the job ad says “must like dogs”. And a sense of humor is a must in our office. A line which references one of these items demonstrates to me that the individual read the ad. If the candidate starts sneezing during the interview because of the dog or is scared of him, he or she received fair warning.
In our February blog, career experts Melissa and Dawn do a great job of talking about how a candidate can use the cover letter to his or her advantage. http://www.tapponline.net/blog/entry/is-a-cover-letter-worth-my-time-and-energy
And as a small business owner, I can tell you that a cover letter is an important part of my initial review. It can eliminate an otherwise qualified candidate or elevate one who may not have some of the skills but acknowledges that in the letter. So read the job ads carefully and demonstrate that you can follow instructions….
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