One of the most popular questions I get from clients is: “Do I need a cover letter?” The answer is - well sometimes…but not always. Through my research, I have learned that some recruiters and hiring managers look for cover letters because it demonstrates the ‘proper etiquette’ when applying for a job. Some could care less, and never read the cover letter, and still others read it before looking at the resume to find out your ‘story’ or why you are applying for the position. Many potential employers scan your resume, and if you have the right credentials, then they may read your cover letter. So better to have it and not need it, especially when you do not have any previous contact with a potential employer.
When to use a Cover Letter: Cover letters are the tried and true job search letter that introduces a candidate, details their desire and qualifications for a specific position, and asks for an interview. Cover letters are formatted with a heading and ‘tone’ to match the resume and provide contact information, along with the opportunity to personalize your job application. They are especially effective for career changers, new graduates, and military transitioning personnel to relay their ‘story’ and ‘enthusiasm’ for a position. Cover letters are also appropriate for very senior level positions where the tradition and formality are an important part of the presentation.
When to use an e-note: When you are sending your resume to a prospective employer, recruiter, or network contact by email alone (not through a job board) - then an e-note is best. E-notes relay similar content as a cover letter; however, they are more concise and contain short bullets for a quicker read. Make sure to put the title of the job in the email subject line; craft a short introduction followed by 3 to 5 short key bullets directly related to the job, and close with referencing your enclosed resume.
End both your e-note and your cover letter with a call to action such as, “I look forward to discussing my qualifications for the position.” or “I would welcome and interview to discuss the specifics of the position.” Without a call to action - a cover letter is just a letter and an e-note is just an email.
Follow the instructions from the company website, job board, or recruiter when uploading your resume, cover letter, and any supplemental documents.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about how to craft and use job search documents.