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Are cover letters worth the bother?

March 12, 2010

Should you submit a cover letter with your résumé? As The Wall Street Journal reports, some hiring managers ignore them, but others say they read the introductory notes attentively. Many job hunters don’t submit cover letters, but those who take the trouble can set themselves apart. Writing a cover letter may be especially worthwhile for career-changers and people whose résumés show a red flag such as an employment gap, the paper reports.

If you decide to submit a cover letter, customize it by referencing the employer’s products or services, or by commenting on a trend in its industry. When possible, address the hiring manager or human-resources manager directly, and acknowledge something personal about the individual — that you attended the same college, for example. Show how your background fits the requirements outlined in the job description.

A cover letter can clear up issues in a résumé that might otherwise confuse or concern recruiters, the Journal reports. One job hunter explained that he had spent the previous 18 months unsuccessfully trying to launch a business, and his candor and entrepreneurial spirit were rewarded with an interview.

It may seem obvious that your cover letter should be proofread and error-free, but many still contain mistakes like misspellings, grammatical gaffes, or being addressed to the wrong company. And while cookie-cutter cover letters are an instant turnoff, one that’s original but dull will probably bring the same reaction. — Greg Beaubien


Cristine Boyd says:

A cover letter is a must for individuals who work in public relations, marketing or other communications fields. A cover letter gives me an idea of your writing style and personality. Without it, I have to wonder how bad you actually want the job?

March 17, 2010

Kirk Hazlett, APR, Fellow PRSA says:

As an Assistant Professor of Communication at Curry College in Milton, Mass., I frequently counsel my public relations advisees on the importance of properly formulated cover letters. I also addressed the issue in a recent blog posting:

March 17, 2010

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