In the world of recruitment we are constantly asked if a cover letter is necessary for a resume. And the simple answer is Sometimes.
That may not sound like a simple answer but it really is. You don’t always have to write a cover letter to go with your resume, but sometimes you should. It really depends more on the situation in which you are applying to a job.
Online job board applications
Not all online job boards are created equal. Take advantage of any areas where you can put a summary of your experience. This will be your cover letter. Tell people what you bring to the table and what you are looking to get out of your next role.
No summary area? Use a cover letter to do the same thing. Just make sure that it is in the same document as your resume so that it actually gets read.
But I emailed my resume
Then the body of your email is your cover letter. That isn’t to say your resume shouldn’t still have a cover letter, but this is the first impression a hiring manager has of you. Take advantage of the situation. Make sure to highlight why your experience matches the role you are applying for. Put in details that encourage that manager to want to read more about what you can offer them in the role.
But please be concise. Your email is not the next great American novel. Don’t lose someone’s interest before they even read your resume.
Your recruiter is your cover letter
When a recruiter presents your resume to a Client for a role, they are doing more than just firing off email with a casual “let me know what you think” subject line. Most recruiters spend time getting all their details about you together, either for an in-depth conversation with their Client or in a typed out Candidate profile to go with your resume.
This is why they interview you. Not only to have a good understanding of your skills and capabilities, but also so they know what you are actually looking to get out of your next role. Their job is to present the very best candidates for a role, and they will be the best cover letter you could ask for.
Unless your recruiter asks you to write a cover letter to go with your resume. In this situation they are asking you because they know it is something their Client wants to see and feels strongly about. A good recruiter will give you great advice on what areas to highlight in your cover letter so you stand out in front of that hiring manager.
If you write one, do a proper job
If you are putting a cover letter with your resume, take the time to make sure it is tailored to the job you are applying for. No matter how much you want to fire off your resume to the 100 jobs you found online today, resist the urge. Take the time to make the changes you need to.
Think about it from the hiring manager’s point of view. Your resume could be one of 250 that they receive. If you have a cover letter, you don’t want it to read like a generic advert for ‘a person who can do a good job’. Highlight your accomplishments in regards to how they will benefit you in this role. Make sure there aren’t any typos or grammatical errors (this applies to your resume to).
If you are going to write a cover letter, do the best job you can do. Or don’t do it at all.