3 Reasons Why You Should Still Use a Cover Letter
There are a lot of mixed feelings out there about whether a cover letter is worth the time it takes to write it. Resumes are a necessary evil, but what about cover letters? Why write one when there’s a chance the recruiter will skip right over it to get to your resume? The thing is, while there are a lot of recruiters who might choose not to read it, there are just as many who appreciate a well-written cover letter and might use it to decide between a few equally qualified candidates.
If you have the qualifications but haven’t taken the time to introduce yourself as a person in a cover letter, you might just be overlooked. Worst case scenario? The recruiter puts it to the side. Best case scenario? They take it into consideration when deciding whether it’s worth bringing you in for an interview. So, unless a company specifically asks that you not submit a cover letter, it’s best to cover your bases and submit one. Here are three more reasons that cover letters are still relevant:
1. They offer a more relevant explanation than a resume can.
Your resume can only do so much in terms of explaining things like a gap in employment, a promotion, or why you held two jobs at once. Many people try to offer too much of an explanation on their resume because they don’t want to submit a cover letter. We recommend that most people submit a cover letter, but if you fall into one of these categories, you especially need one! There is no place for “I was laid off from my last job, which is why I was only there for four months” on your resume. You can, however, offer a brief explanation of why you were only at your last job for four months on your cover letter while emphasizing your relevant skills and why you’re excited about the role you’re applying for.
Even if you don’t feel you have unusual circumstances on your resume that warrant explanation, you still need a cover letter. A resume is an evidence-based document where you present the facts of your employment, leaving it up to a recruiter to decide what kind of professional you are. A cover letter, on the other hand, allows you to elaborate on any strengths you listed in the resume and offer an explanation as to why you’re perfect for the position in your own words. Together, your resume and cover letter make up your marketing team—presenting the facts while also giving you a little bit of personality. If you skip out on the cover letter, you’re only giving recruiters the facts without the personalization only a cover letter can provide.
2. They demonstrate how you communicate.
Even if your resume is perfect, recruiters shouldn’t have to rely on your resume to measure your communication skills. Between the third-person perspective and the to-the-point bullets, there’s not much there that shows recruiters that you’re a natural communicator who can converse well with others.
Then there’s the cover letter, which allows you to write more conversationally and in the first person. The cover letter is a better sneak peek into how you’ll communicate with coworkers and/or clients than a document that could have been written by anyone. A persuasive cover letter gives recruiters a little background on who you are, covers some highlights of your career, and establishes your interest in the position. Your ability to make a solid argument as to why you’re qualified for the role will not only make you a stronger candidate but also give them an idea of how you’ll communicate with others if you land the job.
3. They show you’re a serious candidate.
It’s true—some recruiters won’t bother looking at your cover letter. That’s the unfortunate reality of applying for jobs where you’ll spend countless hours perfecting a resume that might only get a glance. However, it’s still worth the gamble that someone will read it because there are many that will. For those that do read it, the fact that you took the time to write a cover letter will set you apart from those candidates who didn’t bother. Or perhaps it may not be read right away, but as the candidate pool gets narrowed down, they might refer back to your application materials to make a final decision. At this time, they’ll take your cover letter into account when making their decision. You can’t know for sure whether or not anyone will read your cover letter, but you can give yourself a better shot with those companies who do take the time to read cover letters by submitting one. After all, you don’t need 20 job offers—you just need the right one.
Perhaps you’ve always known you needed a cover letter, but you’ve been pulling your hair out trying to write it. The same reasons why cover letters are important are the same reasons they’re challenging to write. Many clients find that the most difficult aspect of writing their cover letter is communicating their accomplishments effectively while also avoiding a “braggy” tone that gives a bad first impression. If you’re at a loss, our writers at Executive Drafts are experts at striking that balance and can help you communicate your experience on paper.