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About Cover Letters: A Cover Letter Is NOT Optional!

9 Feb, 2012

About Cover Letters: A Cover Letter Is NOT Optional!

What’s the value of writing a cover letter? Why do you need that if you are going to submit your resume? Does that not tell the entire story? NO WAY. Simply sending a resume is not enough. A cover letter IS important. No cover letter with your resume is like leaving your house with a shirt and no pants. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

Here are some valid reasons why a cover letter is a very important complement to your resume:

1. Your cover letter demonstrates your ability to put together a cogent sentence, or in this case many sentences about what you offer in a new position and how you can add value for a potential employer.

2. Your cover letter serves as your introduction. You don’t expect to walk into someone’s house through their kitchen, right? The cover is your entranceway. Here, you can enter with grace, set the tone of what the reader should expect to see on the resume.

3. Your cover letter is an opportunity for you to highlight certain things that you might not have been able to include in the resume. For example, perhaps you have been designing model houses since childhood, but have worked in another industry and now want to enter architecture. A cover letter would be the optimal place to discuss such information and provide specific examples of what you have designed. Or, maybe you have been cooking gourmet meals and regularly have dinner parties at your house and your friends’ houses. If you were applying for a position in a test kitchen, the cover letter would be the appropriate place to reveal this information – especially if you currently work in a more traditional business role.

4. Your cover letter is part of the resume package. The ‘package’ is not complete without the cover. Will everyone read the cover? Probably not. While I haven’t done a full study of how many hiring managers read them vs. those that don’t, I can tell you this: when I worked in human resources I ALWAYS read them. I gained a better understanding of the candidate, what underlying skills he possessed and how he might contribute in the organization I represented.

Here’s a good tip: If you want to increase the chances that your cover letter will be read by a potential hiring manager, include it in the body of your email and attach the resume. By doing this, the hiring manager will only have to open one attachment and can quickly read the cover letter when opening your email.
Here’s to your career success!

Debra Wheatman

Want to learn more about this career expert? Check out a full list of career articles, contact information, and biographical info by visiting her Career Experts member profile. LEARN MORE

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