A well-written cover letter is a guaranteed way to get the attention of potential employers and increase your job prospects.
But… it is not the same as a resume.
If you’re currently applying for jobs, you’re probably wondering whether you need both a cover letter and a resume.
After all, we only have 24 hours in a day. Writing multiple cover letters during a job search takes a lot of time, especially if you’re applying to multiple jobs. Why? Because a well written cover letter will be customized for the specific job to which you’re applying.
After you spend so much time fine-tuning and perfecting your resume, you might not even feel like writing a cover letter.
In general, the answer is, “Yes.”
But like anything else in life, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution. In this article, we’ll explore the different scenarios as to when a cover letter is recommended. First, let’s cover the role that a cover letter plays in the hiring process.
What exactly is a cover letter?
Succinctly put, a cover letter is the opportunity for you to sell yourself to a potential employer in narrative format.
Resumes are “snapshots,” if you will, of your professional life. They take the key experiences and skill sets and present them in a powerful way so that recruiters can easily understand your qualifications for the position.
A cover letter, on the other hand, provides an opportunity for you to truly showcase some personality. For example, it can answer why you want the job or why you view yourself as the ideal candidate.
In fact, a study conducted by CareerBuilder suggests that 49% of recruiters and HR managers consider the cover letter the second most important thing to improve your resume. For those of you that are wondering, the first most important thing is to truly customize your resume.
An estimated 26% of recruiters will read your cover letter and consider it “critical” to their hiring decision.
So what exactly does this mean?
While many recruiters and HR managers do not require or even read cover letters, the other half do. Even for recruiters who don’t require one, they might pass the cover letter to someone in the company (a manager, for example) who might prefer one.
In short, it’s best practice to include a cover letter… but it is not required. It’s like the cherry on top, if you will. The bulk of the cake, even the icing of the cake, depends on the quality of your resume itself
If the hiring manager isn’t interested in reading the cover letter, they’ll simply skip it and look directly into your resume. No harm done.
But if the hiring manager is swayed by someone else’s cover letter, then you’ll wish you had written one.
So… when should I not submit a cover letter?
If the job posting explicitly states not to submit a cover letter, then do not submit one!
Potential employers want to know that you can follow directions.
If you can’t follow directions during the application process, then how can they trust that you’ll follow protocols once you’re on the job?
Also, if you don’t have time to write a cover letter for your resume, then don’t write one. Remember, no cover letter is better than a bad cover letter. You don’t have a second shot at a first impression.
An example of this is if you learn about a job opening the day before they stop accepting applications. With just 1 day to write a cover letter, you might not have the time to craft a good one depending on your schedule. In this case, it’s ok to simply submit a resume without worrying about it.
Focus on Your Resume, Not Your Cover Letter
Even if you decide to write a cover letter, the most important component of your application is your resume.
The cover letter is simply a “bridge” (or an introduction that bridges the gap) between two strangers.
“Selling” yourself in the cover letter doesn’t work unless your resume fully backs it up.
So how do you get your resume looking as good as possible?
Have someone who doesn’t know you review your resume. They will have an objective eye and won’t be swayed by what they personally know about you.
OneSource Resume Services specializes in powerfully telling your professional story through resumes.
They have helped countless professionals switch careers and get dream jobs. This is only possible by opening the door through a resume that catches the attention of a hiring manager or HR manager.
Let OneSource Resume Services be your objective eye and provide you the professional support you need to create a striking resume that helps you rise above the crowd.
Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (or texting) 504-500-8325.