Here’s my opinion: I always recommend writing a cover letter. Of course, there are always cases where you won’t or might not need one.
I get this question from clients a lot, and there are a wide range of opinions about cover letters out there! Often people think that they are outdated and irrelevant, or maybe that recruiters don’t even bother to read them. They may question what a cover letter adds to their overall application, or argue that the amount of time that it takes to customize and write a cover letter isn’t worth it.
- Can you get a job without writing a cover letter? Sure, of course, you can – no one said it’s impossible.
- Is it true that recruiters and HR Pros don’t always read them? Yep!
- Do they take a lot of time? They can… although they don’t have to.
- Are they outdated and irrelevant? No! They can HELP you.
A customized and well-written cover letter can set your job application apart from the rest. Certain situations make a cover letter even more critical, though.
Cover letters are crucial in providing additional information that’s not in the resume.
If you’re navigating a career transition, and the job you’re applying for isn’t an exact match for your previous background, you can use the cover letter to explain why your skills are the right match and what you’ll be able to bring to the role. In addition to that, you can use the cover letter to explain why you’re interested in the role. These are all specific details that the resume can’t provide.
If you have a gap on your resume (this generally applies for gaps over a year), you can use the cover letter to explain why you have a gap. A short one-sentence explanation will do the trick, followed by a description of your motivations and what you’ll bring to the table.
This could apply to any other situation where you might feel that the resume doesn’t answer all the questions that a hiring manager or HR Professional might have.
Get Specific: Cover letters can set you apart from other candidates by demonstrating precisely how you’ll be able to contribute to the company. OR showing exactly why want to work there.
If you’re sending the same cover letter to every company, that’s true it might not make much of a difference. To really make an impact, you’ll need to customize your cover letter for every role you apply for.
Think about how you can demonstrate your ability to contribute to the company. Review the description and ask yourself what the employer is really looking for. What makes you uniquely qualified, and what skills specifically could you bring to the table? For example, have you worked on similar projects? Used the same types of software? Do you have knowledge of a specific industry or client base? It can be really helpful to ask yourself why the company is hiring for this role and how you’ll be able to fill this need to benefit the company.
You’ll also stand out if you demonstrate that you’re interested and actually motivated to work at the company. So ask yourself why you’re interested in working there. Again, you’ll need to get specific about this. Does the company have new and exciting project work you’d like to be involved in? Have you always wanted to work in [X] field and the responsibilities in the position look like exactly what you want? Is there something specifically about the company’s values or the industry that makes you want to work there? Maybe it’s more about the company’s founder or the management team? Regardless of what it is, getting specific about the WHY will help you stand out.
The good news: if you create a great template for the types of jobs you’re looking for, it shouldn’t be difficult to quickly create a customized cover letter and demonstrate why you’re the best person for the job.
Interested in learning more about my resume and cover letter writing services? I also love to share my latest tips when it comes to careers, resumes, and interviews… so check out my blog to read more!