How Important Are Cover Letters, Anyway?

By March 7, 2014 No Comments

typing at computerThere are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about the merit of cover letters.  Some hiring managers say that a well written and personalized cover letter frequently makes all the difference in the selection process.  Others admit to never reading them.  And with increasing reports of hiring authorities spending 10 seconds or fewer reviewing a resume before making a “yes” or “no” decision, it may seem difficult to make a case for a cover letter.

Writing cover letters can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of the application process, especially when taking into account the energy sometimes needed merely to uncover the hiring manager’s name.  By most accounts, however, taking a bit of extra time to craft a well thought-out cover letter can be very worthwhile.

Shala Marks, of Recruiter.com, writes about the importance of putting some effort into cover letters.  She notes, “if you are required to apply via an ATS where a cover letter is optional, unlike a direct email, your cover letter may not be the first information a hiring manager sees.”  BUT, “submitting one anyway could be beneficial,” distinguishing the job seeker who went to the trouble from one who didn’t go that extra step.  When a cover letter is requested (read: required), one should by all means be included.  And when submitting a resume or application to a specific email address, including cover-letter-like text in the body of the email should be common practice.

The cover letter does more than illustrate that job seekers can follow instructions and take the initiative, however.  It can also demonstrate how well candidates can express themselves in writing.  And the cover letter is one of the first and best opportunities for a job seeker to present a compelling argument for his or her hire.

It’s often said that searching for a job is a full-time job in itself.  Networking, tweaking the resume, following up on job leads, researching potential employers, completing online applications, interviewing… it all takes time.  So it can be tempting to cut corners, but submitting a generic cover letter – or skipping one altogether – often doesn’t bode well for job seekers.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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