This is a pet peeve of mine that rears its ugly head every few years for me. The topic is the Cover Letter and why it appears most people have abandoned sending one. In my recent completely unscientific study, it appears the vast majority of applicants do NOT include a Cover Letter. This includes Human Resources Professionals who appear to be the worst offenders of all in terms of missing out on this opportunity.

So, recently I actually decided to ask some job seekers why they do not send a Cover Letter along with a Resume. What I received was a variety of excuses that did not seem (in any way) to make up for not including a Cover Letter. Below is a list of some of the reasons I heard and why (in my opinion) it does not begin to justify not sending one.

• “It Won’t Be Looked At” – You are right that some Recruiters will not look at it and others may just glance at it. But, some Recruiters will take the time to review the document and may pull information out of it that may cause you to get a call for a phone interview. Isn’t that worth the gamble? For those in salaried or management positions, I think that as you move up in the organizational chart, the more likely it will be expected that you will include one with your Resume.

• “I Have Nothing to Write About” – I am not sure how someone can have nothing to write that will be informational or will sell their candidacy. Start the Cover Letter by clearly identifying the position you are applying for and how you have heard about the position. Give a couple of sentences that will outline why you are qualified for the positon. When you do this, try using the posting as a guide regarding the job requirements. If you are currently not living in the area that you are applying for, then note that you are moving to the region (and if you don’t need relocation, then clearly state this information). Finally, if you have a personal reason (that you are comfortable disclosing) to explain a gap in employment, then the Cover Letter is a perfect place to make this statement.

• “I Don’t Have the Time” – The time needed to send a customized Cover Letter based on a template you have pre-created is a matter of a few minutes. Is it worth potentially placing yourself at a disadvantage in order to save 2-3 minutes? I don’t think so! This is especially confusing to me when it is said by someone who is currently unemployed. You have plenty of time to add a Cover Letter.

• “No One Else Is Doing It” – This is not true, but if it was, then this would be the perfect reason to write a Cover Letter. A key to your job search is to differentiate yourself from your competition. If a Cover Letter gives you any chance to differentiate yourself, then (of course) you should write one. Besides, you should be listening to yourself and what is important, not following what you think others are doing (or not doing).

• “My Resume Tells Everything” – A Resume really does not tell the Recruiter everything. As noted above, there are a number of different scenarios that require more narrative than a Resume is designed to contain. Besides, even if an item is covered in the Resume, then what is the harm to reinforcing such an important point in the Cover Letter? One area that a Cover Letter does a better job in than a Resume, is highlighting your written communication ability, which can be a critical but difficult skill to obtain in candidates.

There is a pretty common false belief that a Cover Letter is not a necessary inclusion when applying for a position. In my belief, the document is a non-negotiable, as it can add valuable information for the reader while taking very little of your time. Give yourself a competitive advantage and include a Cover Letter when applying for a position!

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.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein


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