Cover Letters – A ‘must have’ or a ‘why bother’?

It’s never that easy, is it? The answer is, unfortunately, somewhere in between.

Back in the days of mailing (or faxing) resumes in response to newspaper ads, cover letters offered a way to introduce yourself to an employer – Something that showcases communication skills and personality. In today’s connected culture, a simple Google search is all a hiring manager needs to see (sometimes) too much information about you.

It’s perfectly acceptable to send a stand alone resume, but if you think more is needed, you may want to add this extra touch.

A cover letter can still be used effectively; it’s simply not that one-size-fits-all form letter of yesterday. It can be anything from a few sentences of greeting when you email your resume, to a formal letter reminiscent of a more traditional letter. Anyway you look at it, a cover letter is now a dynamic document which needs to be specifically tailored to the job/employer in question – otherwise, don’t bother.

  • Make it personal. Address it to the hiring manager (if name is available), or company name.
  • Keep it brief. Never more than a page. Usually, a couple short paragraphs do the trick.
  • Never include job history/information which is included in your resume. This is a supplemental document. Talk about what you bring to the table in less tangible areas than skills and stats.
  • Try to relate what you’re conveying specifically to what you know about the position/employer
  • Don’t oversell yourself. Today’s employers have finely tuned BS detectors. Keep it down to earth and on topic.

A Cover Letter can be a useful tool if you feel it suits the situation. Be yourself; Be original; Be brief.