Cover Letters: 6 Reasons You Should Write One, Even If You Feel It’s a Waste of Time

writeadviceCover letters come in all different styles, and it’s not always easy to figure out the best way to outline your arguments for a job and keep the reader interested. So it’s not surprising to know that many job-seekers obsess over their cover letters. Others spend more time on the résumé, and barely any time at all on the cover letter. Others skip writing cover letters altogether.

The advice you’ll get on cover letters is likely to be mixed, too. You’re likely to hear any or all of the following:

  • Write a new letter for each position and try to show your potential match for a company’s current needs;
  • Write a generic letter for each type of position, but worry more about the résumé; and
  • Forget about the cover letter–nobody reads them anyway, so you’ll be wasting your time.
Given the different approaches candidates take, and the dubious assertion that you always need to write a cover letter, should you bother to write one? And if you do, what approach should you take?
It’s true that some recruiters are avid cover letter readers, others barely skim them, and some skip them until reviewing the resume. But none of these truths justify leaving a cover letter out of your application materials.

Here are 6 reasons why you should write one anyway:
  1. You are not a mind reader.* As such, you can’t be sure about the preferences of the person(s) screening the applications. (*apologies if you are indeed, a mind reader!)
  2. If a committee is handling the screening, people on the committee might have different thoughts on the value of a cover letter. Better to cover your bases.
  3. The recruiter(s) are not mind readers, either. Cover letters provide context about your education, experience, motivation, and possible fit. Your résumé should include plenty of information about education and experience, but the cover letter lets you tie all the pieces together into a coherent whole. Essentially, the job of the cover letter is to make the screener’s job easier, by helping the reader see how your motivation rounds out your education and experience, and molds you into someone who will fit their needs.
  4. Not sending in a cover letter will make you look lazy. Basically, it sends the message that the recruiter needs to do the work to figure out why you are interested in a job, and then to sell you on the value of working for their organization. And the recruiter probably has enough work to deal with already.
  5. The recruiter may interpret the lack of a cover letter as an indication that you are desperately applying for anything and everything, and that you haven’t really taken the time to determine why you are interested in the specific position.
  6. Some recruiters will consider your application incomplete and remove you from further consideration.
What do you think about cover letters? Do you write them for any of the jobs you apply for? Why or why not?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Trackbacks

  1. […] mentioned in an earlier post, what works for one recruiter might not work for another. Some recruiters love to read cover […]

  2. […] you and to put your candidacy into context. This could mean that the reader goes on to read your cover letter, if they haven’t already. It could mean that you get invited to interview for the position. But […]

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