Over the last month, I was spending significant time performing a search for an executive level position. As I reviewed dozens of excellent candidates and read many very well done Resumes, what struck me was the absence of Cover Letters. There were several instances where I was on the fence with a person and the presence of a well-done, compelling Cover Letter may just have been enough to cause me to phone screen the person. In this particular search, I even had to sheepishly tell the Hiring Manager, when he asked for a Cover Letter on a person, that I did not have one in this instance. Not a great way for a candidate to start with the Hiring Manager!
This situation caused me to speak to some Recruiter friends of mine who all agreed with me that they are seeing fewer Cover Letters than in the past. All of them lamented this change as they informed me that they prefer to receive the document.
Not content with just landing on what was happening, I attempted to uncover why Job Seekers have begun to “forget” about the Cover Letter. Let’s examine some of the reasons people are mistakenly, in my opinion, dropping the Cover Letter and why you should always include a top-notch Cover Letter in order to give yourself a competitive advantage.
The Cover Letter Myths:
• “The Experts Know Best” Some may say this is me calling the kettle black, but I actually read on the Internet some “so-called” national writers saying that is OK to drop the Cover Letter. Further research found this sentiment on Message Boards and Blogs. A Job Seeker should always do what is best for them, but this HR Professional for 15 years wants to see a Cover Letter and I know there are many like me.
• “No One Reads Them” While it is true that Recruiters are extremely busy people most do want to read the Cover Letters of those who intrigue them. My thoughts are “why take the chance?” If a Recruiter actually does not want one, they will ignore the document. If a Recruiter actually does not want one, they will ignore the document, but if they would like to review it and it’s not there – you lose! It is better to be safe than sorry.
• “With E-Recruiting Applications They Are Not Necessary” It is true that more companies than ever have a tool that allows you to apply online. These companies usually, however, have a mechanism that allows you to attach documents. Take this opportunity to attach both your Resume and your Cover Letter.
• “The E-Mail Page is Sufficient” If e-mailing your documents, it is very tempting to use the e-mail page in lieu of a Cover Letter. While I still would use this space to my advantage by introducing the documents I have attached, it still does not compare to a stand-alone Cover Letter.
Why You Should Include a Cover Letter:
• Allows You to Sell – The Resume serves to list your experiences, accomplishments, and skills. The Cover Letter, however, allows you to briefly write a narrative that states why you should be hired. Take advantage of this opportunity!
• Provides Useful Information – Most Recruiters like it when a Cover Letter states how you heard about the opening and what is the best time and way to reach you. A Resume can’t /doesn’t provide this important information.
• Allows for Personalization – Prospective employers like feeling important. The Cover Letter allows you to place personal touches, like the name of the Recruiter or Hiring Manager, on the document. You should also always include the position you are applying for. It is also suggested that a few sentences tying your skills specifically and directly to the position you are applying for should be included in the Cover Letter. The idea is to show the Recruiter that you are interested enough to take the time to do something with a personal touch.
• Shows Off Your Written Communication Skills – Writing skills are clearly facing extinction. It appears more people than ever struggle with writing well. This may be due to the e-mail and texting phenomenons, or just a general lack of attention to detail. Whatever the reason, a well-written will help you stand out above your competition.
Sometimes a Job Seeker wants to do what they perceive others are doing – seeking any and all the advice possible. Other times, busy Job Seekers are attempting to find ways to save time in their search. All are valid reasons for action, as long as the activity isn’t omitting Cover Letters. Bottom line is that Cover Letters were created many years ago for reasons still valid today. Give yourself a competitive advantage by always including a well-written one when you are applying.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
WNY Human Resources Professional
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