Do you really need a cover letter when applying for jobs? Can you get by with just a resume? How about if the company doesn’t ask for a cover letter? Should you still include a cover letter even when it is not required?
In most cases, a cover letter will only help your candidacy for the job. Done right, a cover letter is a way to highlight your most relevant skills and qualifications for the job. Your cover letter is a good way to show an employer what you want them to know about you, without the hiring manager having to figure it out themselves from your resume.
(Almost) Always send a cover letter
Many experts agree that sending a cover letter is almost always the best decision. A cover letter is the job hunter’s opportunity to help the potential employer see that the applicant’s skills and experience match what the employer seeks. A well-written cover letter distinguishes your application.
A cover letter can make a good impression on a prospective employer and is an excellent way to show that employer why you are a strong candidate for the job. It is also a useful way to explain away any potential concerns the employer might have about your candidacy, such as gaps in your employment or the facts that you will need to relocate for the job.
Even if a job application does not require a cover letter, you can send one anyway. Often, employer expect a cover letter even if they do not directly ask for one. Sending a cover letter when it is not specified for shows that you are a motivated candidate.
When to not send a cover letter
If you are applying online for a job and there is no way to upload or post a cover letter, don’t worry about it. You do not need to include it.
Do your research
Before you start writing, find out more about the company and the specific job want. Look at the company’s website and its social media site. Do some research beyond reading the job description. Find out what the challenges the company is facing and how your role would help address those issues. Knowing the company also help you to decide on the right tone to use in your cover letter.
Make sure it’s a good one
While a well written cover letter may increase our chances of getting an interview, the opposite is also true. A poorly written cover letter will likely cause an employer to reject your application. Therefore, only send one if you have the time to write a clear, concise and well written letter that makes a strong sales pitch for getting an interview.
Make sure you write a targeted over letter that specifically related your experience to the job posting. Keep it short and sweet: 3 – 5 paragraphs, with each paragraph focusing on an aspect of your candidacy.
Finally, be sure to thoroughly edit your cover letter. Typos and grammatical errors will demonstrate a sloppy work ethic to the employer.
Principles to remember
- Have a strong opening statement that makes clear why you want the job and why you’re right for it
- Be succinct – a hiring manager should be able to read it at a glance
- Share an accomplishment that shows you can address the challenges the employer faces
- Try to be funny – too often it falls flat
- Send a generic cover letter – customize each one for the specific job
- go overboard with flattery – be professional and mature
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