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Is Writing A Cover Letter Worth Your Time?

At first glance, it may seem that since your resume already outlines all of your credentials, it’s not worth the time to prepare a cover letter that may never get read when you apply for a job. However, when done properly a cover letter has the potential to increase your chances of getting an interview. As a result, it may be worthwhile to spend time preparing a well-written and thoughtful cover letter to accompany each job application you submit. On the flip side, a generic or poorly written cover letter can remove you from consideration for a job, and a resume submitted without a cover letter altogether may convey the message that you aren’t interested enough in the position to take the time to draft a document tailored specifically for it. Your cover letter could be the first impression you convey to a possible employer so it can be a great opportunity to start off a potential relationship on solid ground.

Sending a polished cover letter can help you in a number of ways that your resume cannot. For example, not only does it allow you to describe specifically why you’re a fit for the job, but also provides an opportunity to:

  • Explain any gaps in your employment history;
  • Communicate the reason you are looking to leave your current position;
  • Reference a networking connection; and
  • Proactively address any potential concerns the employer may have about your resume, background, work history, etc.

Even more, a thoughtful cover letter allows you to demonstrate that you’ve spent time researching the role and the company, and provides a great opportunity to showcase your writing skills and your ability to draft a professional letter.

A good cover letter doesn’t need to be long, and less is more in most instances because your reader likely will be reviewing a large stack of resumes and cover letters so probably will appreciate concise communication.  As a general guideline, keep your cover letter to one page in most instances to increase the likelihood that the entire document will be read.  In addition, the shorter the content, the less chance there will be of an inadvertent typo, which could keep you from getting an interview.  And remember to avoid generic content and to proofread your cover letter before submitting it.

In short, even though there’s a chance nobody will ever read your cover letter, there’s also a chance it could help you to get an interview—and in today’s competitive job market, every advantage helps.

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