We have all come to accept that a traditional resume need not exceed a given number of pages.
When the resume of a fresh from school goes beyond the second page, we can almost accurately conclude that such a document may contain materials less useful to the person reviewing it.
Even the resume of a jobseeker with a vast pool of experiences must have a limit beyond which it must not stretch itself else the document may be branded as too bulky and therefore incapable of competing with the rest best.
Of course there are resumes that justifiably can and must go beyond the average limit but such documents are an exception rather than the general case as are found in the majority of reviews. The degree-holding social work graduate who adopts a hard-drug-infested little community from level 200 up until graduation and who has worked tirelessly to reduce addition among the community youth may be new to the labour market but her CV certainly will go beyond what is average length.
In the same way, when an ambitious private university like Ashesie throws teaching opportunities to young advanced degree holders in various areas, the resumes this institution will be expecting must be bulkier than the ones on their way to the advertising agency. This is so because universities being teaching and research institutions, persons with background in research and whose works have attracted the attention of some of even the second rated academic journals will have a better shot at the opportunity.
But as the candidates enlist one research after another, their CVS get bulkier and bulkier so that by the time they are done with the resume, a five, six, seven and even ten page-document may emerge. Similarly, the twenty-year old young adult with practical experiences in social work in her little community will put together a resume whose length may go beyond what is tradition of persons in her class.
Need for a covering letter
A resume therefore is a document with vast demerits when examined from the point of view of the amount and detail of information that the average one is intended to accommodate. Because of the inherent weakness of resumes not being capable of conveying to the employer the entire sweet stories of the job hunter’s competences and other achievements in related areas, another document that professionals have christened covering letter has become a handy solution.
A covering letter is one that is intended to fill the information gaps that a normal CV contain. Such vital pieces of information which when pushed into the limited space of the resume may not be acceptable find space and expression in the cover letter. When a jobseeker is so brilliant that she sat and passed the BECE while in her second year and repeated same feat at the senior high school level, even though the resume may capture these excellent performances, the employer reviewing the CV may either overlook these or entirely skip them as immaterial. But when such sterling accomplishments find expression in the somber cover letter, chances are that these same achievements that could have annoyed the employer if they were forced into the resume may now be the game changer.
It must be born in mind that a successful cover letter has its distinct characteristics separate from the ones whose narratives are a repetition of what has already been stated in the CV. The most important feature of a covering letter is that it has to be distinct. This language distinction is necessary and matters not whether the job is white or blue colour. Because a lot of employment announcements do not specifically ask for a covering letter, it is often seen by some HRs as unnecessary. And to make it necessary, you need to spice the start such that a simple curious glance at the document is transformed into a reading of the whole letter.
In the covering letter, the jobseeker has the special opportunity to introduce subject matters she is sure will interest the job-giver and at the same time forestall choosing the wrong candidate. Candidates with special talents either difficult or impossible to capture in the traditional resume will find a cover letter a convenient space to put such information.
If you consider the example of a weirdly talented computer programmer with numerous practical accomplishments in these areas, although he may be able to list these practical accomplishments in the CV, the narrative is finer, more detailed and appropriately captured when related in a cover letter. This is so because the cover letter is a narrative while the resume, no matter what we do to it, is supposed to be our profile in bullet points.
Bullet points is excellent for brevity but a poor communicator of detail narratives that are potentially pregnant with the power to set the bearer apart from the rest. And when you are running against the best in your class, it will be a grave error to err on the side of brevity, luxury that may transform talented jobseekers into ordinary job hunters.
The cover letter is the space for free, though cautious bragging right. If there are any achievements that you particularly feel are great selling points that capturing in bullet points reduces their full effects, the cover letter is where such bragging is allowed and even applauded if released in the right doses and in a manner consistent with the traditions of a covering letter.
Finally, a covering letter has been found to improve the winning chances of a candidate relative to the jobseeker who fails to accompany her CV with this letter. In the scramble for the most prestigious jobs, every percentage point counts. In the final analysis, every effort to grab the job is reduced to percentage points. And these percentage points, even if they are decimals, draw the line between the winners and losers at the end of the day.