So What’s the Deal with Cover Letters?

A cover letter serves as an addition to your resume to help explain why you feel like you would be a great candidate for the role. But what should it include? Is it necessary at all times? Are recruiters even going to read it?

Here’s our fool-proof guide to cover letters….

Cover letters are not necessary in every situation.

Your resume is going to explain what you’ve done and the accomplishments you’ve achieved. A cover letter should not reiterate what’s on your resume. It can be a great tool in certain instances though.

If you are applying for a role in a city other than the one you currently live in, attach a cover letter to your resume and explain that you understand you’re living elsewhere but that you’re really interested in relocating. Oftentimes, if you are living in a different city, a recruiter is going to be skeptical about whether it will end up working out. If you explain your intention to relocate, you’ll increase your chances of getting a follow-up interview.

If you are applying for a role that you aren’t completely qualified for, attach a cover letter to your resume and explain what you can bring to a role and how you feel like you could learn the other areas that you may not have experience in. You may increase your chances of hearing back.

If you have gaps in your resume, attach a cover letter to your resume and explain the reasons behind them. Large gaps can be a red flag to an employer that you aren’t a serious candidate. However, if you can explain that the gap was due to raising kids, taking care of a family issue, etc. it will help the recruiter better understand your situation.

Cover letters should be personalized to the specific position you’re applying for. Recruiters are going to look at them, but they’ll probably stop reading if they realize it’s a canned letter.

A generic letter saying you’re going to work hard and are excited for any new opportunities is quite frankly a waste of time. Anyone can type this up in a letter, and a recruiter isn’t going to end up spending the time reading it. Either make it count by having a letter that is very specific to that particular role – or just skip it in general.

The absolute worst thing you can do is apply with a cover letter catered to a completely different role and company.

Always double check when you’re applying for a position that if you’ve written a custom cover letter, you’re submitting the correct one! Nothing will get you thrown into the no pile faster than having an attached cover letter to the entirely wrong company. This is a red flag that you’re not detail oriented.

So at the end of the day, a cover letter can be a great addition to further explain something on your resume that a recruiter may pass over you for, but if you don’t have something specific to explain, just skip it entirely. Most applications come without a cover letter, so it’s definitely not necessary in every situation.

By Allison Walke, Talent Acquisition & Onboarding