We have all seen the statistics about whether you, as a job applicant, really need to send in a cover letter with your resume. And honest to goodness statistics are few and far between. Go ahead. I dare you to google it! Believe me when I say that this is a trip down the Google rabbit hole (aka – a waste of your valuable time).
I’ll break it down to a very simple question. Do you – or – do you NOT need a cover letter?
The answer is YES. You need a cover letter. I would estimate (and this is based on my professional experience) that approximately 60% to 70% of the time, your cover letter will not be read. In fact, it will get tossed out without a second glance.
So why do you need one? I’ll tell you.
Dinosaurs. They may be old school, but some Boomers and Generation X’ers in hiring positions really – and I mean really – like their cover letters. You will never convince them it is an unnecessary practice and I personally know a few that will refuse to read a resume unless it is accompanied by a cover letter. Whether they are evaluating your formal written communication skills or simply checking your grammar, a great cover letter can honestly make a huge difference in whether you escape the hiring “black hole.”
A Second Chance. Your cover letter represents a second opportunity for you to sell yourself. And here’s the best part. It’s free! All it takes is a few extra minutes to customize your letter, so you really have nothing to lose but time. It’s a wide-open platform where there really aren’t any rules. The sky’s the limit, so use this space to show exactly what you have to bring.
Branding. Even if the hiring manager throws it away, chances are pretty good that they will glance at the first line, or the last line, or any other line that their eyes drag across. I choose to make each and every word count, because it could be only a single sentence or phrase that gets airplay. In other words, the branding needs to be strong throughout the entire document…because “what if?”
And the moral of the story? Better safe than sorry.