The controversy over whether to include a cover letter with your résumé when you apply for a job has been as hotly debated as whether or not to wear a helmet when you’re motorcycling. According to NHTSA, in 2015, 40% of the motorcyclists killed were not wearing helmets. Statistically similar, 45% of job seekers don’t include a cover letter with their résumé. While I surely won’t compare motorcycle fatalities to sending a cover letter with your résumé, I will tell you that the chances of your résumé being seen by a recruiter or a hiring manager are greatly reduced when you don’t include a cover letter. In fact, 9 out of 10 executives communicated in a recent survey that they found cover letters to be valuable in evaluating job applicants.
Here are some reliable reasons as to why should include a cover letter with your résumé:
- Cover letters enable you to sell yourself beyond the typical listing of work experience and skills in your résumé. Using a cover letter enables you to showcase specifically how your talents, skills and abilities are an ideal match to what the hiring manager is looking for, as specified in the job posting.
- Cover letters get you more visibility by connecting you directly to hiring managers helping you surface above all the other job seekers swimming in the résumé database pool.
- Cover letters are an opportunity to personalize your brand message and demonstrate to the hiring manager your knowledge of the company and the industry.
- With a cover letter you can communicate that the company is your employer of choice and why you are an organizational “culture and values fit.”
- Because writing a cover letter requires some research and writing time on your part, the hiring manager will appreciate the time you took.
- The cover letter is additional job search real estate beyond your résumé in which to include action keywords that the employer has used in the job description and is looking for thereby enhancing your ability to ride through the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).
Just as a helmet is an added layer of protection in your arriving safely at your destination, a cover letter adds a layer of assurance that you’ll get to the targeted destination of your résumé: the interview. You can choose to wear a helmet or not when you’re motorcycling (except in those states that require one) and ignore the odds just as you can send your résumé without a cover letter and wonder why you never received a response. Life is about choices. But remember, hoping your résumé will be seen is not an effective job search strategy.
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