What Is a Cover Letter for a Resume?
We have all been there (at least I have).
You make it through the employer’s career page and fill out all of the required information they ask for. Now, the employer is asking you to upload your resume with an option to upload your cover letter.
Should you upload a cover letter? Does anyone actually read them anymore? When I was searching for my next job opportunity a few years back these same questions came to mind.
The simplest answer is to have a professional take care of it and hire a top resume writing service, but today, we’ll give you some tips on how to go about a “cover letter” during your job search.
What Is a Cover Letter anyway?
According to an article from The Atlantic, the first mention of a cover letter for employment was a 1956 newspaper advertisement seeking a chemical engineer to work for a paint company. It asked for a cover letter and a resume.
Cover letters were seen as a way to sell yourself and show your potential/skills to prospective employers. If you took the time, you could even tailor each cover letter to a specific employer and explain why you were a great fit for the job.
As the years passed and office culture exploded, more corporations began asking for them (typically with more white collar jobs).
Your “Cover Letter” was meant to “cover” your resume and would be the first thing the employer saw when you mailed in your resume to an employer.
Does Anyone Actually Read Cover Letters Anymore?
As resumes are no longer mailed to a company but emailed and examined, cover letters typically get set aside in favor of jumping straight to your resume to look for those all-important keywords. So, the answer is “it depends.”
Many hiring managers today will get a flood of resume submittals once a job opening goes live, making it a time sucking task to weed through them. Due to the time crunch they are in, cover letters are often ignored right away.
However, just because cover letters are becoming less common, doesn’t mean they’re not important. For top-level positions at big companies, especially if you’re aiming for a six-figure salary, a cover letter is still a must-have.
It shows that you’re a motivated job seeker and willing to put in the extra effort to stand out from the crowd. Even the smallest details can make a big impact and elevate you above other candidates also looking to win over that job.
If I Use a Cover Letter, What Should It Say?
Before you start, you’ll want to look at our list of skills to put on a resume which can be used to expand into your cover letter as well.
But a great intro to start with is always “Dear Hiring Manager,” followed by a brief section where you describe your desire to work for the company.
Followed by an explanation of why you are a great fit for the company, highlighting how skill X, which you possess, matches their requirement Y, and so on. No need to go overboard–keep it short and sweet, and focus on drawing the lines between their requirements and your experience.
Are Cover Letters Worth The Time?
Applying for multiple jobs can be a hassle and writing unique cover letters for each one can be a time sucking task. To make the process easier, it’s a good idea to have a generic cover letter saved on your computer that you can tweak for each application. Just make sure to add the company name and the hiring manager’s name where necessary.
If you come across a job that really catches your eye, take the time to add a paragraph that goes into detail about your skills and experience. This will help set you apart from other applicants and show the employer that you’re genuinely interested in the role.
Best of luck out there!
Looking for tips on how to build a resume for free? Check out our latest post!
Author: Becky is a contributor for theJub. She’s a writing and talent acquisition specialist who loves to apply her skills through creative writing and editing.