The cover letter sometimes gets a bad rap as an unnecessary document. Some bloggers in the career space even go so far as to suggest not submitting one because hiring managers won't read it. But, whether they read it or not, the strange thing is that many hiring managers will disqualify you if you don't send a cover letter.
Confused? You may be thinking: "Let me see if I get this straight. Hiring managers want me to send a cover letter to accompany my resume, even though they won't read it?" Yes, that makes about as much sense as that sprig of parsley on your restaurant dinner plate; it's there but serves no useful purpose.
But this is a job search, and you need to be prepared for everything, even if it means that submitting a cover letter is only a formality, or some hiring manager's version of an initiation rite.
The cover letter serves as an opening act for your resume, offering you a chance to make a personal statement beyond the skills, qualifications, and achievements you list on your resume. It allows you to speak directly to the hiring manager, in your own words, to address how you can provide what the company needs. Then, hopefully, the hiring manager reads your resume.
The cover letter also gives you an opportunity to showcase your writing skills, which are in higher demand today given the growth of Internet-based communications over the last decade. If the job involves some writing, the letter can work in your favor.
But what if the hiring manager doesn't read it?
Well, you can't force someone to read your cover letter. But if you're asked to come in for an interview, be sure that what you say in the interview matches what you wrote in the cover letter. At the least, it will demonstrate how well you know yourself and how your skills match what the company needs.
And if the hiring manager admits to not reading the cover letter, it demonstrates who was more prepared for the interview.
Has a hiring manager ever commented on the contents of your cover letter and how it helped lead to a job offer? Tell us about your experience.
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