I was first writing the blog post about tips on a great resume. (You can read all about that here.) Then cover letters came up and I figured it would be best to write a separate post. Otherwise, that other post will be super long!
So you might be wondering whether you should include a cover letter with your resume when applying to jobs. The answer is: YES, whenever applicable.
Not everyone reads cover letters. I’ll admit that even I don’t read all cover letters. Some of them are too long or the candidate is already not a fit based on his resume. BUT, if I’m looking at a resume and I’m on the fence about whether to move that person forward, a cover letter can be the tipping factor.
- Keep it short and simple. Lengthy cover letters make recruiters groan and more prone to skip reading them entirely. Use spacing appropriately and engage your audience. Get straight to the point of why you’re applying to that job and how you can contribute.
- Cater each cover letter to the job/company. This one is quite annoying, but it won’t take long once you get used to writing them. A very generic cover letter is easily forgettable so it’s best when candidates take time to do their research and that’s portrayed in their cover letters. Or at least they make it look like they did research.
- Address the cover letter with a unisex term or persons. I might not have phrased that well, but what I mean is simply, “To whom it may concern,” “Dear recruiting team,” “Dear hiring manager,” or just, “Hello!” It does bother me a little when I get a cover letter that says, “Dear Madam,” or even worse, “Dear Sir.” Don’t assume genders so keep it neutral.
- Proofread and spellcheck! I’ve gotten so many cover letters that say this candidate is excited to be considered for a company that isn’t the one I’m reviewing them for. I don’t expect everyone to be super detail-oriented, but the least you can do is make sure you copied/pasted the right company.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager and have differing opinions, I’d love to hear them 🙂