Is writing a cover letter a waste of time or the key to landing your dream job? Find out what the experts say.
Certain employer portals allow you to include a cover letter while others don’t. Some recruiters say they don’t bother to read them and that they’re a waste of their time and yours. Cover letters take valuable time and effort to prepare if you want to get them right. With all those reasons not to bother, should you still be preparing a cover letter to accompany each resume you send?
A 2017 CNBC headline announces “Cover letters are out” while several career coaches on prominent internet sites such as Forbes.com give reasons to stop writing cover letters.
But is the era of the cover letter really over? We did some research to find out and here’s what we discovered.
Should You Send a Cover Letter? Here Are 5 Factors to Consider
Your cover letter is another medium through which you can sell your candidacy.
A good cover letter shouldn’t duplicate the content of your resume. Instead, it should complement your resume and make an enthusiastic argument for your candidacy complete with a call to action. View this as your opportunity to gain your reader’s attention and to encourage them to want to meet you and consider you for the position. Candidates often find that they have more to say than what fits in their resumes and the cover letter is a perfect opportunity to highlight why you’re the best candidate for the position so use it to your advantage.
You can use your cover letter to alleviate potential concerns.
If your resume indicates gaps in your employment history, a change in your career path, or several short stints at different employers, you can use the cover letter to provide a clear explanation. Addressing these potential objections up front during the screening process can improve your chances of landing an interview.
While not every recruiter reads every cover letter, the right recruiter or hiring manager might read yours.
From comments all over the internet, it’s clear that certain recruiters do not read cover letters while others do. So how do you know whether the recruiter reviewing your resume will read your cover letter? You don’t. However, the question you have to ask yourself is whether you are willing to risk your opportunity for the position by deciding to not write one? We find that several recruiters tend to use cover letters to narrow down candidate choices after first screening resumes for qualified applicants. There are also many recruiters who say they always read cover letters.
Even if no one reads your cover letter, you’ll benefit from the process of writing it.
Job search strategist Kerry Twigg notes that cover letters are necessary as a job seeker tool. She explains that by answering the question Why do I want this job? for your cover letter, you also gain clarity for yourself. Instead of pursuing every job, you’ll become better at identifying your ideal job and articulating why it’s the right role for you. Therefore, we suggest that you make it a habit for yourself to go through the process of writing one for every position you apply to.
There are some times when you shouldn’t send a cover letter.
While most of the considerations noted above weigh in favor of cover letters, there are certainly times when you should skip the cover letter. For example, if a job post says to skip the cover letter, follow those instructions. Also, if you don’t have time to customize your cover letter, then it may not help you to send a generic one. A generic cover letter can be spotted a mile away and you would be better off not sending one if you’re well-qualified for a job and you’ve taken the time to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying to. Take the time to personalize each and every cover letter you send, it is time well spent.
A Well-Written Cover Letter Can Give You an Edge Over the Competition
Should you include a cover letter with every job application? With limited exceptions, the answer is yes. Use your cover letter to start a conversation with prospective employers and let them get a glimpse of your personality and passion. You can use Carmen’s free tool to help you customize your resume or to figure out the important keywords to highlight on your cover letter.
Lastly, make sure you seal the deal with a targeted resume. Find out how to tailor your resume to a specific job with these 5 quick steps.
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