If you are looking for a career change, it’s likely you’ve experienced this scenario: you’ve spent hours perfecting your resume, you are just about to apply for a job when you see this line— “Cover Letter (optional).” Do you stop and take the time to craft a thought out letter? Does that increase your chances of landing the interview? Will anyone even read it?
These days, experts are leaning towards no.
Think about the last time you wrote a physical letter and sent it through the mail. Chances are it’s been a while. Why send a cover letter that repeats information employers can find on your LinkedIn profile, resume, or personal website? Hiring managers are wondering the same thing.
The point of a cover letter is to allow employers to see the bigger picture of who you are and what you are looking to achieve professionally. Today’s digital landscape allows you to do that and more. Most recruiters and job managers admit they are using social media to research job applicants.
But don’t discard cover letters too quickly.
We may be in the age of digital information but, depending on your situation, some resumes without a cover letter may get dismissed immediately. In more creative roles, or ones where writing will be a substantial portion of the role, they can hold more value. Generally, if a job post specifically asks for a cover letter, include it. If it is listed as optional, still consider submitting it as it shows your commitment to the job, but keep in mind it may still go unread.
If you are going to submit a cover letter, make sure you do it right.
Cover letters should always address the following: how you discovered the opportunity, how your qualifications match the job requirements, your availability, and your contact information. If all of this comes across clearly on your resume it may not be necessary.
Either way, to stand out your focus should be on a clean resume and strong online presence.
Recruiters will spend an average of 60 seconds to determine if a candidate is worthy of an interview. Be sure your skill sets, education and years of experience are clearly stated. For more writing a clean resume click here. In addition, in lieu of a cover letter, it’s a good idea to provide references and/or a letter of recommendation that includes proof of why you’re the best candidate.