One question that I am often asked is, “Do I really need a cover letter?” The question stems from the assumption that a cover letter isn’t going to be read, or that a resume covers all of the necessary information. The short answer to the question is: Yes, you need one.
Why Do I Need A Cover Letter?
Obviously, the follow-up question is: “Why?” Your resume clearly outlines your work history, highlights your relevant experience, and demonstrates the value you can bring to a potential employer. So, what more could a hiring manager want? What makes that additional document so important? Well, first of all, it shows that you are serious about wanting the job. It lets a hiring manager know that you want the job badly enough to write a letter that might not even be read. It demonstrates that you understand the importance of professionalism.
Part of making a good first impression is following established rules of etiquette, even if those rules seem antiquated. Submitting a cover letter with your resume is part of following those rules. So, it is necessary because it is expected. It also lets you connect with the hiring manager in a way that goes beyond the cut-and-dry format of your resume. It lets you present yourself as an actual human being, not just a “job candidate.”
You can use your cover letter to reiterate why you are an ideal candidate for the job. It gives you a chance to explain gaps in your employment, or make connections between your job history and your target job that might not be obvious. Ultimately, it can help set you apart from all of the other job candidates.
Cover Letter Best Practices
In order to make the most of your cover letter, there are some best practices to follow. First, make sure your cover letter is not too long. The ideal length depends on the job you are seeking, but always keep it under a page. If you are submitting it via email, send it as the body of the email, not as an attachment (attachment letters won’t be read). Don’t use a generic letter to apply to several jobs–customize it for each job posting. Personalize it when you can by including the name of the hiring manager. If you don’t have this information, call to get it unless the posting specifically says not to call.
If you need help creating an effective cover letter, let us help! Our resume packages all include a cover letter, or you can purchase one separately.