Compare Our Products

Propel Your Career
Get to the next level faster with professional Resume Writing or Editing products.

How Important Is A Cover Letter?

CATEGORY: Cover Letters
POSTED: March 20, 2014 at 10:15 am

Job hunters regularly ask how important it is to have a strong cover letter compared to having a winning resume. How much time should a candidate devote to it?

In a December 2013 article on the American Journalism Review website, Adrianne Flynn, career development professional, states that “Cover letters are the first introduction. If it doesn’t grab a hiring [manager]’s attention in a good way, your presentation is already a fail.” (Source:)

Insider Advice on Cover Letters

Flynn quotes two recruiters that offer top insider advice. One states, “Just a few simple sentences, in active voice, on why you want to work for me. Don’t be too clever.” Another recruiter reveals that an “interesting, lively cover letter” can mean a “second look” for a candidate with a resume that’s a little weak.

Why Cover Letters Matter

Jodi Glickman, author of the book Great on the Job told Harvard Business review in February 2014 that “Not sending a cover letter is a sign of laziness. It’s akin to making spelling and grammar mistakes in your résumé. You just don’t do it.”

Duke Law School encourages its students to concentrate attention on their cover letters and suggests that “in today’s highly competitive job market, a creative, thoughtfully composed, well-written cover letter can make a significant impact on hiring manager to move your resume from the tottering stack of many to the well-balanced stack of a few.”

The career professionals at Duke Law also state that “Most importantly, your cover letter should be absolutely perfect, with no typographical errors or misspellings.” That is one reason many savvy job seekers utilize professional writers like those employed by

Make It Personal

Duke Law further tells its students that cover letters are “an opportunity to distinguish their credentials, attributes, and experience.”

Keep in mind that personal doesn’t mean unprofessional.  A writer at Harvard Business Review suggests that job seekers should not “try to be funny” in their cover letters because “too often it falls flat.” (Source:)

Some final tips

Harvard Law coaches its students to “go into detail about your background and skills instead of reiterating what is already on your resume.” (Source:)

Harvard Law suggests “cover letters should be about one full page” and recommend an introductory paragraph, middle paragraphs that are written to “stress those work experiences that are most relevant to the position” and a closing paragraph that has your contact information.

Follow the tips above and you should have a cover letter that not only does a great job of promoting you–it will also get you noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.

Shawn P.

Shawn is an expert resume writer with over 20 years of experience in professional recruitment, staffing, marketing, advertising and communications. He authors dozens of executive level resumes each year.

» Read Full Bio

Sign Up for the En Route Newsletter

Career articles, resume advice, and interview tips delivered every month!


» Build a Better Resume (24)

» Career Planning (4)

» Climb the Ladder at your Current Company (3)

» Cover Letters (7)

» Create Outstanding Cover Letters (6)

» Creative resumes (1)

» Employment Tips (10)

» Find the Right Job (19)

» Graduates (2)

» Grow Your Network (2)

» Hiring a Professional Resume Writer (1)

» Hot Skills (1)

» Information Technology Resumes (1)

» Interview Best Practices (8)

» Interview tips (8)

» Job Fairs (3)

» Job search in New Year (3)

» LinkedIn Profiles (9)

» online application (1)

» Professional Development (2)

» Recruiter Tips (7)

» Resume tips for Baby Boomers (2)

» taking charge of your career (4)

» Tips on Asking for a Raise (1)

» Tips on Entering a New Industry (6)

» Using Social Media (5)

Meet Our Resume Writers

ResumeEdge has more than 50 professional resume writers with personal experience in over 40 industries—including the one you want a job in. » Meet Our Writers

Propel Your Resume

Get to the next level faster with professional Resume Writing or Editing.

Compare Our Products

My editor used a lot of what I like to call "pow" words. Sometimes people find it difficult to say great things about themselves, and I really appreciated the way she made me look--even if I have little experience in the current field I'm going for.

— Tammy L.
Healthcare, Practitioner and Technician
North Carolina
» See All Testimonials

We're Busy Little Bees

Resumes Written This Month
Resumes Written Since 1998