Do I have to send a cover letter with my resume? Do they really do anything? Those are the questions a client recently asked me. My answer to her: Yes, yes, yes a thousand times yes! They do a lot more than you could imagine!
Your cover letter is an essential piece of the whole job search puzzle and can do so much to really pull together your presentation to prospective employers. Don’t believe me? Check out the reasons for including a cover letter:
- Perhaps your friend Jane works at the company. This could serve as a connection and be your ‘in’ if you will. Let them know the great things Jane has to say about working there and how your skills will fit right in with the culture. Or maybe you met the hiring manager at an industry event and they asked you to send your resume. Reference this in your cover letter to refresh their memory.
- So many things cannot fit on your resume; use the real estate on your cover letter to include a few juicy tidbits that didn’t make the cut on your resume. Maybe you have some accomplishments from a job 20 years ago but didn’t include that job on your resume because you didn’t want to date yourself. Go ahead and include those accomplishments on your cover letter. That way they are not tied to a particular position and once you are in for the interview you can discuss it more in depth. These little teasers can encourage your reader to keep on reading all the way to your resume.
- Switching careers? Had a few too many jobs in the last couple of years? Want to relocate? Your cover letter is the perfect spot to address those questions that may come up when a hiring manager is looking at your resume. Such as: Why is this person applying for a job in Florida when they live in California? Or, this person had been in retail; why are they applying for a position as a chef? And, I wonder why this person has worked at three different jobs in the last three years.
- Plain and simple – a cover letter looks more professional. It sets the tone for your resume and is a traditional part of the job application process. It certainly doesn’t hurt to include a cover letter; but by not sending a cover letter you can be decreasing your chance of job search success. It’s better to be prepared than not, especially when it comes to finding a job so go ahead and include a cover letter.
While the internet has made it extremely easy to find and apply for jobs there is often some confusion on whether or not you should include a cover letter when submitting your resume electronically. For the most part, online application processes include a spot where you can either copy and paste a cover letter or upload one. The same goes for submitting a resume via email. Definitely include a cover letter; I would recommend however that you include it all in one document to make it easier for the person on the receiving end.
If you had any question about whether or not you should include a cover letter I hope this article cleared that up for you. But if not let me summarize – you should always send a cover letter!
by Megan Koehler