OK, I’m going to jump into the debate.
A few months ago, Glassdoor released an article titled, “Here’s What Recruiters Think About Your Cover Letter,” which claimed more than half of 13K career professionals surveyed said no.
Let me start by saying, I like Glassdoor. I typically recommend this website to my clients, and I think their advice and information are generally sound.
And this article is no different. In general, I think their advice is pretty spot on, but my feelings on the cover letter debate are slightly different.
While some recruiters and hiring managers don’t like cover letters, my opinion is that having one won’t hurt you, but it could help you. So, why not take a few minutes and put together a decent cover letter? And if you do, try to make it stand out – either by including something funny or interesting (but definitely NOT NSFW!) or by painting a very clear picture of your skills with professional and straight-to-the-point prose.
Why am I still pro cover letter? Read on to find out.
It’s Attention-Seeking (Which is GOOD in this case!)
The truth is that while the resume is an important document, you still need to market yourself a little bit if you want to command attention. Writing a custom cover letter is the easiest way to show your interest in a position while highlighting some of your best skills. Of course, there, are other good ways to focus some attention on your application – an email or LinkedIn message to a key player, for example, might be called for depending on the situation. However, note that I said the cover letter is the easiest way – it is. The format is pretty simple, and most of the content can be found in your resume.
Cover Letters Display Your Listening Skills
Listening skills – everybody needs to improve them (especially my children). How many times have you seen a job listing that included detailed bullet points describing the available role? Nearly every job posting will list – sometimes in excessive detail – the skills required for the job. The tone of the job description and the inclusion of some less conventional material might also tip you off to the culture or what it’s like to work there.
If you want to stand out, you can write a cover letter that details exactly how you have what they’re looking for. For example, if the company mentions that it is looking for a Customer Service Manager who can quickly solve problems and oversee inventory, you should highlight examples that show your skills and experience in exactly that.
Cover Letters Give You Prime Opportunity for Showing Off (Again, A Good Thing)
Employers love people who have done their homework. Custom cover letters help you show that you have some existing knowledge of the company and what it stands for. Instead of writing, “I thrive in fast-paced, customer-oriented environments,” you can relate your skill to the company’s culture. “[Company] is seeking individuals who can keep up with the fast pace of the [industry] industry. My experience as a Customer Service Manager has developed my multi-tasking skills, which will be an asset to your company.”
Cover Letters Let You Tell An Interesting (But True) Story
You’ve probably heard that storytelling is king when it comes to job hunting. When I say storytelling, I mean giving engaging, true examples of your experience – not making up tall tales. Because the cover letter provides a more open format than the resume, it offers more opportunities for storytelling. So channel that librarian in 5th grade who used to do amazing voices for Dr. Seuss, and start writing!
Sometimes a Slight Modification Goes a Long Way
In some cases, all you need to appeal to a potential employer are a few slight modifications. I DO help my clients with custom cover letters and emails that are specifically targeted toward a position. However, most of the time, I help my clients by writing a captivating template with a few places that allow for specific modifications – this way, the cover letter is fast to write, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of your time if the hiring manager tosses it aside – which some WILL do. Others, however, will see your writing skill and reach out. It’s a 50/50 chance, and not having a letter is not a risk I would be willing to take!
Want to talk more about how a cover letter can help you? Set up a free call at morleycareersolutions.com/contact!