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Should I Send A Cover Letter?

You may feel your cover letter is a beautiful thing with just the right words, tone, and customized message. I hate to break it to you, but it’s a waste of time.

The truth is, most recruiters ignore cover letters. Even if the cover letter is a relic of the past, however, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook entirely. Here’s what you should do instead.

A history of cover letters

People used to mail resumes. As in, put a stamp on it, put it in the mailbox, and get it opened by a company recruiter. The idea of an introductory cover letter was an extension of the means and more formal cultural norms of the time.

Companies also didn’t always receive many resumes each day. Real people actually had time to read through resume submissions. Today, resumes are much easier to send by email, which is easier for you.  But this means companies are overwhelmed by the volume of resumes in their inboxes and don’t have the time to read everything like they used to.

People skip right to the resume

On average, most recruiters look at a resume for just 6 seconds before deciding whether the candidate is a possible fit and worth further review. If the resume doesn’t work, a cover letter isn’t going to help. If the resume does work, the company will want to schedule a phone interview and the cover letter is irrelevant. Either way, the cover letter is a non-factor.

The purpose of the cover letter was to persuade a company to talk with you. Just take that same approach, and put the content in a resume instead.

Email is the new cover letter

The modern cover letter is the email you send with resume attached. How you email your resume is important. Some quick tips:

  • * Less is more.

  • * Include a one-sentence introduction that outlines the role you are interested in.

  • * Reference any internal connection, if you have one (employee referral or insight from personal experience with the company).

  • * List your 4–6 key sell points. If you follow the Top Third Rule on your resume, copy the Objective and Skill Summary sections, and paste them here. Include your name and contact info at the bottom of the message (email address, mobile number, and LinkedIn profile link).

  • * In the subject line, write your name and the type of role you’re hoping to land.

Don’t forget to attach your resume before you hit send.

What if a cover letter is requested?

Some companies will request a cover letter. Presumably, this means someone actually wants to read them, or it could be a test to see if you can follow directions.

In this case, the good news is you can take exactly what you would include in an email, as described above, and just drop it in a Word doc or PDF.

For more helpful job search tips: Ultimate Job Search Guide: Recruiter Insider Tips


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