Business Magazine

Cover Letters–Do They Matter?

Posted on the 17 November 2012 by Asuccessfulcareer

The debate rages on as to whether cover letters are useful or a waste of time/effort/money. At a conference I attended in October, a panel of 4 hiring managers and recruiters gave a less-than-enthusiastic response when asked whether they read the cover letters that accompanied applicant resumes. If I remember correctly, one of them indicated that he did read them (at least part of the time), but I think the other panelists basically said they did not. On the other hand, I and many of my colleagues have seen our clients achieve a positive result from submitting a well-written cover letter with their resume. So…who reads cover letters, and is sending them a wasted effort?

Cover Letters–Who Reads Them?

It’s pretty well impossible for you to know ahead of time whether the person who receives your submission is going to read the cover letter. In the past, I’ve heard some managers say they always read the cover letter because it gives them another insight into the candidate, while other managers will say they read the cover letter if they like what they see on the resume–and still others will turn thumbs down on the whole idea of cover letters. In other words, the reactions are spread out all over the map! Unfortunately, that’s not particularly helpful to you as a job seeker.

My take on this is that it could be a good idea to assume someone will read the letter and send one with your resume for each job opportunity you’re really interested in pursuing. If your letter is well done, you won’t hurt your chances for consideration and might increase the odds in your favor. That’s worth making an effort to write a cover letter yourself or–if you’re paying a professional to create the letter–investing some money in it, as a potential aid to your career success.

5 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Address and send it to “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir [or Madam]” or anything else that’s equally generic. Do your utmost to find out who should ideally receive the letter and direct it to him or her. After all, how much attention do you pay to mail you receive that’s addressed to “Occupant”?
  2. Ramble on about why you’re looking for a new job and what you’ve done over the last 10-15 years (possibly described in excruciating detail). Honestly, no one cares about all that but you–especially if it means reading a dense one-page or (heaven forbid) two-page cover letter!
  3. Put important information in the cover letter that isn’t in the resume and should be. Remember, we’re not even sure the recipient is going to read your letter, so why risk putting a critical piece of information only in there?
  4. Send a generic cover letter that doesn’t in some way link the needs of the employer with the value you can offer–the problems you can help solve, the opportunities you can generate (revenue, profit, competitive edge, etc.), and so on.
  5. Wrap up the letter with a general-wording paragraph that doesn’t indicate your interest in arranging an interview to discuss specific needs and your ability to meet them. The primary purpose of a cover letter is to ask for an interview.

Undoubtedly, these aren’t the only cover letter mistakes job seekers can make–and have made–but they can give you some clues as to what to avoid.

Good and Bad Cover Letters

Good cover letters can matter and are usually worth doing; bad cover letters are worse than no cover letter at all. Make sure you know the difference between the two!

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Social Media and Nofollow Links: Do They Contribute to SEO?

    Social Media Nofollow Links: They Contribute SEO?

    A big question that is now put to SEO strategists is the questionable effect of social media and nofollow links on a website’s search engine ranking. Read more

    By  Georgestevens
  • Cover Cover-ups

    Cover Cover-ups

    Most of Earth’s surface has been discovered and now it has been mapped by Google. But the world beneath the sea surface is largely Terra Incognita. Read more

    By  Thinkibility
  • If It's Such a Strong Seller's Market Do Staging and Condition Really Matter?

    It's Such Strong Seller's Market Staging Condition Really Matter?

    You would think staging and condition wouldn't make such a big difference in a strong seller's market but that isn't the case, at least not in my experience. Read more

    By  Homesmsp
  • Why Words Matter

    Words Matter

    Created with WordItOut.Researchers have recently identified 23 words they term “ultraconserved,” meaning they haven’t much changed since the end of the Ice Age... Read more

    By  Center For International Private Enterprise
  • Phishing? Do They Do That in Steiermark?

    Phishing? They That Steiermark?

    photo : John Loo I was talking to my mate Natt the other day (who besides being a cycling freak, is also something of a computer geak ) and he was trying to... Read more

    By  Linda
  • Why Your Child's Grades Don't Matter as Much as You Think They Do

    Your Child's Grades Don't Matter Much Think They

    We are a society obsessed with betterment through numbers and it seems that we are constantly trying to find ways to have simple numbers prove our worth in... Read more

    By  Gbollard
  • Friday's Letters #1

    Friday's Letters

    This is my first time doing this link-up, but I figure a little change never hurt anyone, huh?Dear Work, I am sooooo glad it's Friday and I get a break from you... Read more

    By  Klnelms