With so much conflicting information online, it’s easy to see why you might be tempted to forego the cover letter when you apply for new positions. This is particularly true if you’re a busy student or recent graduate looking to land your first role as soon as possible. However, we’re here to tell you that cover letters still play a vital role in the job-hunting process. And here’s why.
Employers expect to see them
Even though cover letters are often optional, a recent study found that 72 percent of recruiters still expect to see them as part of your application. In some cases, they might not even get around to reading your letter, but the time and effort you put into writing your letter shows you’re passionate about the role, a professional, and keen to secure an interview with them. In fact, the same study found that 77 percent of recruiters give preference to those who submit cover letters over those who don’t. So, by not including a cover letter, you could damage your chances of being invited in for an interview.
A cover letter complements your resume
Your resume allows you to give a detailed overview of your education, skills, experience, and achievements. Meanwhile, your cover letter gives you a chance to write a more personal introduction to yourself and go into more detail about your qualifications and skills. A cover letter complements and expands on your resume, and gives you the opportunity to elaborate on your accomplishments. It also can add personality to your application and help to grab the recruiter’s attention. And even when it’s optional, it can be the deciding factor as to whether you get an interview or not.
It can help you to overcome a lack of experience
Whether you’re still studying or you’ve recently graduated, entering the world of work can be daunting, especially if you don’t have any experience in your chosen field. While you can use your resume to highlight your qualifications, your cover letter gives you the chance to overcome this lack of experience. It allows you to expand on relevant courses you’ve studied, transferable skills you may have, or hobbies/interests that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. So, if you don’t have a huge amount of experience to shout about, a cover letter is definitely an important tool for your job search.
You can showcase your interpersonal skills
Interpersonal skills are vital in pretty much every job you’ll ever have, and believe it or not, your cover letter can be a great way to begin showcasing them. While your resume is a more black and white document that details your background, your cover letter gives you a chance to add a bit of color to your application. You can use the body of the letter to tell your story and prove why you’d be a great fit for the role. A well-written cover letter can make your application stand out and helps to demonstrate some of your soft people skills.
When it's okay not to writer a cover letter
Despite cover letters being excellent tools for improving your job applications, there is one exception. This is when a job posting specifically states that you should not attach a cover letter. If you ignore it and attach one anyway, you’ll look like you can’t follow basic instructions. Not only this, but it might also suggest that you didn’t read the job posting in its entirety. And, ultimately, your cover letter will end up being ignored.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading UK careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.
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