In recent years, the debate has increased over whether or not to include a cover letter as you’re applying for jobs. Adding a cover letter in the past was a no-brainer as, along with your resume, it was a standard application piece. With the additional avenues of finding jobs such as through LinkedIn and other social media, applicants are tempted to not include a cover letter anymore. Here are a few pros and cons for sending one to your potential employer.
Pro: It shows your extra interest in the position. Let’s face it, a cover letter takes effort. If you include one, you’re showing an employer that you’re taking that extra time to show how much you want this job. If you only send a resume, an employer knows you typically have this ready to go so the effort appears minimal.
Pro: You can give more details about yourself. Traditionally, the cover letter is a place where you can brag more about yourself. A resume can only include so much information, so a pro to the cover letter is giving more information about the things you want to point out to an employer. For example, it’s a great place to elaborate about specific achievements and give more detail about statistics from your previous jobs.
Con: Your little mistakes can eliminate you. If a cover letter isn’t required for your application, a major reason not to include one is you’ll knock yourself out of consideration if you make any mistakes in information, wording or spelling. If the letter isn’t written using good grammar, you can also eliminate yourself, so this is a major reason to skip it if it’s not required.
Con: By not including a cover letter, your resume may end up in the wrong department, causing you to miss out on an opportunity to interview.
Con: Going generic can also rule you out. Many times, we’ll recycle cover letters and just change the company name and job title for each individual position. If this is what you’re doing, it could be a good idea to exclude a cover letter. Employers can often spot a generic cover letter so you may be hurting yourself if they can tell you didn’t write an original letter.
Ultimately, including a cover letter is a personal decision and one to think about before you move forward with your application. In the end, it’s probably better to work hard on a cover letter and include it with your resume, except in those situations where you are not asked for one. In those cases, follow their rules. In all other cases, avoid the cons and it could help you land the position.
If you have any concerns about whether a cover letter is right for you, let’s talk about it!