Undercover: Do cover letters matter?

Some consider the main purpose of a cover letter as a logical step to follow related to traditional professional employment application protocol – in the same way one would choose to wear an interview suit versus shorts and a tank top when interested in making a positive first impression. Cover letters offer the opportunity for candidates to officially introduce and market themselves to prospective employers with regard for their qualifications for a particular job opening.

Further, they are an excellent way to demonstrate one’s communication abilities – which tends to be a universally required skill set across all industries, no matter what type or level of position. Typically, a person’s communication style, tone and creativity do not come across with personality on a resume quite as effectively as with a cover letter.

Often there are arguments in favor of omitting a cover letter. Some of these include:

-Most recruiters don’t read them
-Applicant Tracking System (ATS) does not always require
-Old-fashioned practice
-Too much work to customize for each opportunity

Since most people don’t know in advance who will be receiving their information, nor the recipients’ preferences, it seems odd to make assumptions that cover letters are an unnecessary piece of the career marketing package. Guessing wrong represents a wasted opportunity to expand upon and emphasize the reasons one fits the employer’s requirements.

The cover letter and resume are companion professional branding materials meant to tell as complete story as possible in a concise and impactful manner. Whether expected or not, it makes more sense to risk a cover letter not being read, than to skip it and be skipped over for demonstrating laziness or lack of concern for the recipients who may actually value having another evaluation tool to measure the candidate’s suitability for their organization’s needs.

During the full-cycle of the talent acquisition process, there is always potential for multiple individuals to observe a person’s correspondence and credentials while engaged in the screening and selection phase. Just because certain parties may elect to ignore cover letters doesn’t mean others won’t question why the cover letter is missing and form an unfavorable view of that candidate.

Hiring authorities frequently express opinions that the vast majority of job seeker cover letters AND resumes are poorly done – in those cases, candidates are not doing themselves any favors by highlighting their communication flaws or lack of attention to detail in such an obvious way. Professional help may be the appropriate course of action to avoid harming one’s professional reputation if resume and cover letter writing is not an innate core competency.

TalentTalks partners with job seekers to build competitive career marketing strategies and compelling professional branding materials to create a lasting positive impression.

TalentTalks | Creating a Voice for Talent


1 Comment »

  1. dormrmtocourtrm said

    Wow, great article. Cover Letters are a battle I am fighting right now trying to find a job.

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