Should I include a cover letter? Is a cover letter really necessary? These are common questions job seekers ask and one you should be asking too!
The short answer is YES! You should always include a cover letter.
Years ago, when you mailed your cover letter and resume, you knew the cover letter would be seen. Depending on the individual preference of the person screening/receiving the packet, your cover letter would either get read or not. While we are no longer mailing a hard copy of our documents, some recruiters still expect to see one.
Your cover letter demonstrates your interest in the company and job. It may sound like an old fashioned protocol, but you should still do it, whether the employer asks for it or not.
When Applying Online
When applying online, sometimes there isn’t a specific spot to upload a cover letter.
If there is a separate area to upload your cover letter, do so there!
But if there isn’t a spot for a cover letter, you have three choices:
- Upload it with your resume file as the first page.
Not only does it help with any missing keywords but, it also helps ensure the recruiter will see it.
- Send your cover letter and email to the “hiring manager” and make sure it is all in one document. (The cover letter is page one, your resume would be pages two and three) And name your document as [your name job title applying for].
- Don’t send one it all (not recommended)
Purpose of Your Cover Letter
Because the resume has been changed to meet the requirements of the job, the purpose of the cover letter is to:
- Explain why you want to work at that company
- Summarize the most important qualifications
- Thank them for their time and state your intentions to follow up (whenever possible)
For more details and examples check out these articles:
But My Resume Explains My Qualifications
If you’ve gone through the trouble to customize your resume, then what do you put in the cover letter?
The purpose of the cover letter is to explain why you are interested and qualified for the role. This is something that your resume alone can’t convey!
When there are many similarly qualified candidates applying for the same job, what can you do to set yourself apart?
Explain why you want the job!
Will It Get Read?
With the extreme demands on time and the electronic processing of resumes, you can’t be sure what is going to happen to your cover letter.
Always send a cover letter because there are enough people out there reviewing resumes who are want to see it and sometimes won’t read a resume unless it is accompanied by a cover letter.
But They’ll Always Read Your Resume
Today, you can’t make someone read your cover letter.
So if you have critical qualifications but you only mention them in the cover letter, what happens if the letter doesn’t get read?
They won’t know about those qualifications. And this is why you must customize your resume for every job you apply to.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.