En Route: A Career Blog

Should you bother using a cover letter?

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: August 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

The answer depends upon the cover letter.

As a hiring manager, I receive dozens daily from applicants. Some are one sentence long, stating the obvious. “I want to apply for this position.”

Others go into more detail, telling me about my company’s products, philosophy, history, etc. etc. etc.

Some cover letters even state that ResumeEdge will only survive if I consider hiring that particular applicant.

What’s wrong with these approaches?

Common Cover Letter Mistakes

1. Don’t waste your time sending any hiring manager or recruiter a cover letter that tells them you’re applying for the job. You’re wasting your time writing that and their time asking them to read it. If you’ve submitted a resume to them, they know what you’re doing.

2. Please don’t ever tell a hiring manager what their company is about. They know. They work there. They have information about its operations that you couldn’t begin to understand or appreciate. You won’t impress them with this so-called information. Again, you’re wasting their time.

3. Applying for a position with a veiled threat that the company will not survive without your expertise is not the way to impress the hiring manager or recruiter. Most will laugh. All will delete your cover letter/resume and will move on to the next candidate.

In a recent article posted on the University of Phoenix site, the author asks if cover letters are obsolete. She doesn’t believe so, and neither do I.

A well-written cover letter can make your case for candidacy and will compel the hiring manager or recruiter to read your resume, delving deeper into your background.

Great Tips to Keep in Mind for Your Cover Letter

1. Always address your cover letter to the hiring manager or recruiter. If you don’t know the name, find it. Do an internet search of the company. Call its HR department. Ask. If that fails, then don’t make the mistake of addressing the letter “Dear Sir or Madam” or worse “To Whom It May Concern”. You might as well write “Dear Occupant”. Leave off such salutations and state what position you’re applying for – something like this:

RE: Job Opening #4581C – Administrative Assistant

Then move into your opening paragraph.

2. If you have addressed your letter to an individual, the opening paragraph should always state what position you’re seeking. If you’re targeting a large company they may have dozens of job openings. Don’t make them guess as to which you’re seeking.

3. The body of the letter comes next. Here, you want to prove you’re qualified and that they should ask you to interview. You do this by dovetailing what you know/have done to the job requirements. You can use a T-style letter. That is, on the left you’d have a column titled “My Abilities/Experience”; on the right, the column would be titled “Job Responsibilities” (stating the duties of the position for which you’re applying). Again, dovetail the information in the two columns.

4. Every cover letter should end with a proactive statement, stating that you’ll be following up. Don’t expect the hiring manager or recruiter to do so, especially in this poor job market.

Page Length Counts

Your cover letter shouldn’t be more than one page in length. It should get to the point quickly, stay on point, provide a glimpse of your background and entice the hiring manager or recruiter to read your resume.

If you have a cover letter like that, it will enhance your resume and candidacy.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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I was totally satisfied! My cover letter was perfect, no edits needed. I must say that I've never worked with a company that has been so professional and efficient. I am Australian and was a bit hesitant, as all countries do things differently, but I am so happy to have such a great resume and cover letter.

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Hospitality and Tourism
New South Wales, Australia
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