Does anyone read cover letters anymore?

Why should I include one?

Isn’t it just a repetition of what’s on your resume?

These are questions constantly being asked by hungry job seekers across the country. And we get it. Job hunting is tough and spending that extra time crafting a witty customized cover letter is a pain. But you’re really missing out on a great opportunity to sell yourself if you don’t do it.

The cover letter is your electronic elevator pitch. It’s your chance to sell your wares and summarize why you think you’d be a great candidate for the role. Yes, this means that it should be tailored to the role (and personally addressed to the hiring manager).

What your cover letter should cover:

  • Why you want this job and not just any job. What about this job drew you in? Is it the type of work, the company, the products, the culture?
  • Briefly mention any relevant experience/skills/education you have.
  • If you’re underqualified, acknowledge it and convince them why you deserve a shot anyways.
  • If you’re overqualified, explain why you’re applying for a job that may seem ‘below you.’
  • Share compelling reasons why you might be a good fit for the company that aren’t suitable for your resume. For example, you’re a fitness junkie applying to a job at Adidas.

Do’s and don’ts for writing your cover letter:

  • Do write one. Always. In an email body is acceptable practice these days.
  • Don’t send the same cookie cutter letter with every application.
  • Do try to address it personally. Check the website and LinkedIn for contacts, but don’t stress too much if you can’t find one.
  • Do be brief. One page. No exceptions. Preferably 3-4 short paragraphs.
  • Don’t just regurgitate your resume.
  • Do pick out relevant snippets from your resume to highlight which correspond to the job.
  • Don’t begin all your sentences with “I.”
  • Do demonstrate any understanding you have of the company and how you’ll fit in.
  • Don’t use ‘fancy’ or unprofessional fonts (read: comic sans).
  • Do use spell check.
  • Spell check again.
  • Don’t forget to include all your contact information.
  • Do tie your resume in with your cover letter. If you use personalized letterhead for your resume, apply it to your cover letter as well. It’s okay to be creative… as long as it doesn’t involve comic sans!