A debate that has occurred time and again, by job hunters, recruiters and companies alike. Cover letters divide opinion. Some like to see one, extolling its ability to get a resume or candidate that initial interests, while others tell you that they are discarded and not often read.
Who is right?
Both. It’s unfortunate but some companies do disregard, or even not read, any cover letter that comes along with a job application. They feel them to be nothing more than a sales pitch and think they would get a better view by simply reading the resume.
Thankfully this is not always the case, and the more skilled or higher paid the position you are going for the more likely it is that writing a cover letter to your resume will be worth your time.
What advantages can writing a cover letter bring?
A lot. It can give you that initial foot in the door that sending a resume by itself might not. It can help color the opinion of the person reading it and make them more likely to hire you… it gives you a sales pitch before the document of your resume. If thats not worth taking the time writing a cover letter then why are you applying for the job at all?
So lets look at the advantages writing a cover letter can bring in a bit more detail.
A well written cover letter helps you highlight skills
Although you are able to, and should, list your skills in your resume on a when writing a cover letter you are able to include them all in one central place. If the skills you are need for the job you are applying to are spread over a couple of jobs the ability to have them listed and highlighted all in one place, and draw the recruiters attention to it, is a great benefit and a chance that should not be passed up.
A cover letter can help you bring together the specifics
It’s not just skills that writing a cover letter can help you highlight, it is also a great place for emphasizing work with competitors, years in the industry, relevant projects you might have completed. All things that don’t fit in well on a CV but are great for helping you get an interview. This is where a well written cover letter really shines.
Those ‘other’ things that might help your application
It can also be used to emphasize ‘other skills’ and tidbits such as zero sick days for x length of time, various additional hobbies and interests that are relevant (do not include anything that isn’t, when writing a cover letter you want to be to the point).
You can use your time writing a cover letter to another advantage a single resume and most of your competition for the job won’t have: research. By showing what you know about the company, what you know about the industry they work in and their competitors you show your knowledge and enthusiasm for the position. You can also use this research to show how well you would fit in in that type of industry which is great if you are trying to switch careers or industries.
The fact is that a cover letter is a sales pitch. It is there to make sure that the reader is aware of what you can bring and so that he or she are aware of what they should be looking for on your CV or resume, not just reading a dry document with little to no frame of reference.
So make sure you are selling yourself in the best light possible
In the end though it is up to you to decide if writing a cover letter for your resume is worth your time or not. But if it’s not you have to ask, why are you applying for the job at all?