To Cover Letter Or Not To Cover Letter? by The Career Diva
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To Cover Letter Or Not To Cover Letter?

Many job seekers tell me they’re sick of sending resumes and getting no responses, and you all get even madder when you spend time on a well-crafted cover letter and rarely get a peep. Thi

s may be one reason I’ve been hearing from hiring managers that some of you are opting not to send cover letters, even when a job posting specifies that you “send a cover letter.” Also, a Mashable reporter called me a while back asking if cover letters were even necessary today, especially for people in information technology and social media.

My answer to that reporter was a resounding “yes.”

I told her

cover letters are even more important for social media and tech job seekers. “Today companies want tech employees who are critical thinkers, well-rounded and do more than just tech speak,” she says. “These things are hard to convey in a résumé.”

In some cases, Tahmincioglu adds, the first person to see your application is a human resources manager, who may not know much about the dense list of computer programs and technical projects on your résumé. The cover letter can be an opportunity to draw them in with a personal touch.

Before the Internet, and the ability to send hundreds of resumes off into the job board ether, there was little debate over whether or not to send a cover letter. You just did.When your resume arrived by snail mail it would have been highly rude and sort of dumb not to send a cover letter. The letter was your introduction, explaining your interest in a firm and a particular job. And chances were, you were able to get the name of a specific person to send the letter to. Can you imagine a mailroom back then with hundreds of letters and no specific recipient name?

Today, all bets are off. Job seekers often send multiple resumes to multiple employers, and companies are inundated with resumes and barely have time to read through those. Some employers don’t expect a cover letter and often there isn’t even a place to include a cover letter for some online job postings. But some employers do still expect one. How do you know whether it’s a good idea to craft such a letter, or whether it’s a waste of time?

I would argue, a cover letter is your only chance to make it personal. Even though you think your resume is personal because it’s all about you, you’re not directing your information or comments to a particular hiring manager or job or company. The cover letter lets you do that.

“In cover letters, I always reiterate succinctly how my exp is unique, ideal fit for role. Always,” said @edhan, aka Ed Han, Online Community Manager at Whine & Dine Networking, after I asked on Twitter this morning whether job seekers send cover letters with all their job applications.

And @KarenGirardCCDP, aka, Karen Girard, a career coach, tweeted: “cover letters shows more personality than the #resume & focuses on how 1 fits w/culture&values of org & fit for job.”

I know, you guys are sick of all the job-hunting work for no gain. I don’t blame you. Maybe you need to focus on sending fewer applications out so you can spend time putting together a cover letter.

Surely, cover letters are no guarantee you’ll get noticed. But in this sea of job applicants, if you don’t find some way to show your unique personality, you may end up going down with the no-one-noticed-me ship.

The Career Diva


The Career Diva  Blog

Eve Tahmincioglu has been writing about business for nearly two decades and her stories have appeared in a host of publications including the New York Times, Time, Salon.com, and BusinessWeek. She is also a columnist for MSNBC.com where she writes the weekly “Your Career” column. From labor strife in the auto industry to buying funerals online, you never know what topic she’ll tackle next. Her specialties include workplace issues, the small business and entrepreneurial world, and leadership, including interviews with some of the biggest names in Corporate America. She was named one of the top ten career tweeters on Twitter by CareerBuilder and CNN; and CareerBuilder named CareerDiva.net one of the 9 Job Blogs You Should Be Reading.

Eve is the author of the book “From the Sandbox to the Corner Office”, which includes interviews with 55 CEOs and leaders from all walks of life talking about the life lessons they learned from parents, mistakes, career twists and even bad bosses. Eve has been writing about career development and labor issues for nearly two decades as a staff writer for a host of publications such as UPI, Women’s Wear Daily and the St. Petersburg Times. Selected portions of Eve’s book can be viewed here.

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