Ask two people for career advice, and one set of advice will likely be far different from the other. Cover letters (are they a critical element of your job search, or are they just discarded?) are no exception.
Despite all the differing opinions, people in both camps agree on one point: If a prospective employer requests a cover letter, you should provide one. A very good one.
First things first: the best start-up cover letter is usually not a traditional cover letter at all. It’s a warm introduction to someone important, at your start-up of choice, from someone important… you, their next team member. Additionally, whoever is reading your application at a start-up is inevitably pressed for time, and probably doesn’t even have “hiring” in their job description – at a growing company, everyone pitches in where help is needed most, regardless of whether it’s part of the definition of their job. To make sure you shine in the few seconds your cover letter spends with that
Job seekers often ask me, “Do I really need a cover letter?” or “Does anyone actually read a cover letter?”
The answer to both is a resounding yes. Yes, you really need a cover letter—and yes, recruiters and employers actually DO read them. Furthermore, it absolutely CAN hurt your resume response rate if you do not use a cover letter.
Allow me to elaborate on the advantages of utilizing a cover letter and what you’re missing out on by not writing one:
Here are 5 advantages of using a cover letter:
Rather than start a cover letter in typical, ho-hum fashion, lead with a personal story that either happened at work or on your free time. It can be dramatic, interesting, unique (like Amanda Munster’s genius savings plan for a first home), exciting or downright unusual.
If the anecdote relates directly to the job you’re after — and the skills it requires — you stand a much greater chance of the employer being impressed with your application.
In other words: a stronger cover letter might just get you hired…
I read an article recently that detailed why 95% of recruiters don’t read cover letters. One recruiter put it best when he said cover letters were generally so bad, he concluded they weren’t worth reading.
From the candidate perspective, it is clear we don’t like writing them: “Well, it doesn’t say a cover letter is required, so I must not need to send one, right?” Wrong!
Each job or internship you apply for is different from the last… different job, unique requirements, another company. So, it remains very important to customize every cover letter as you apply!
The hiring manager wants to know you’re not just sending out a generic letter to all employers; in fact, if they sense a “form letter” hiring managers will often immediately delete the application…