As a recruiter, I know how tedious applying to job after job after job can be. After entering all of your contact information, education, work history and other details into a an applicant tracking system, you will probably be asked to upload a resume and a cover letter. And like most people, you will probably submit your resume and bypass the cover letter. Cover letters take too much work and no one really cares about them, right?
I know how tempting it is to skip over writing a cover letter, but in most cases you shouldn’t. Whether you realize it or not, the cover letter is an extremely valuable asset to your overall job application. They tell me more about you than your resume and they can get your foot into a door you otherwise would not be invited to enter. If you’re debating whether or not to submit a cover letter for any reason, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. At the bare minimum, submitting a cover says you can follow directions
I have read enough applications to conclude there are plenty of folks who think cover letters don’t matter. But when an application or job announcement specifically requires a cover letter for consideration, it is in your best interest to submit one. If you can’t demonstrate the simple ability to read and follow directions as an applicant, chances are high that a supervisor or manager will not trust you to follow directions and do the job right.
2. Cover letters also demonstrate your potential before you get the job
Whether it’s asked for in an application or not, your cover letter functions as a writing sample that demonstrates your ability to deliver on the basic skills needed to be successful in your next role. Additionally, you will make a stronger impression on a recruiter or hiring manager when you submit a cover letter without being prompted by application instructions. A well-written cover letter demonstrates several soft skills, including your ability to communicate, get to the point and pay attention to details. These are skills your next manager is sure to want in their next hire.
3. Lastly, cover letters show passion
If a resume demonstrates what you’ve done over your career, your cover letter is the why. Whether you’re applying to be a teacher, an accountant or a content strategist, the cover letter is the ideal opportunity to demonstrate your passion for the work that you do. When your passion for and commitment to your work shines through, it makes a better impression on whoever is reading, especially if you don’t meet some of the requirements of the position.
Sending a strong cover letter with your resume and job application demonstrates initiative, promise and drive. If you still need to be convinced, keep in mind that if you provide more information in your application package, a recruiter or hiring manager will have more to make a decision with. The more information they have, the better your chances are.
If you think about skipping over the cover letter in your next job application, don’t. The thing you could be skipping over is your next great job opportunity.
William is a proud Janet Jackson fan and the sole recruiter for a global campaigning and advocacy organization based in Washington, DC. In his spare time, he is a freelance resume & cover letter writer. Follow him at @williamrecruits for tips, tricks, jobs opportunities, or just to say hello.