Your cover letter’s purpose is to explain how your previous experience makes you ready for the job. “I can do x because I did y.” At the same time you explain you understand the job. Then the CV becomes just “proof” of that.

Your cover letter’s purpose is to explain how your previous experience makes you ready for the job. “I can do x because I did y.”

At the same time, you explain you understand the job. Then the CV becomes just “proof” of that.


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  1. I take the bullet point list they give in the person specification and turn it into a series of examples of how I meet each of those requirements. That way I know I’m giving them the information they need

  2. My own experience is that you never know what will work with each individual company. Skillfully written cover letter? Y/N. Carefully crafted resume?Y/N. Ya never know. But what really bugged me was that after researching the online advice gurus for the current trends regarding what the hiring people are looking for ….. the hiring guys don’t know anything about that. Seems like they throw all the applications into the air and the ones that land face up are the ones they call. Sheeeeeesh!

  3. Can confirm.

    I placed a picture of a dog for an art contract job as my cover letter.
    The HR department called me laughing and asked why I did that.
    I explained that I hand drew that picture and wanted to stand out.
    They set up an interview the next day where I bought my portfolio and got the job.

  4. Resume = facts about yourself.

    Cover letter = explanation of how those those facts will make you great at the job role.

  5. Cover letters are still important, just not for every job. If the posting asks for one, you need one!

    Cover letters are your chance to show who you are as a person or employee (this is why a lot of helping professions would prefer/require one). Its a great place to show off how your relevent work experience could be beneficial to a potential employer. They should be in first-person, super brief and concise.

    Whereas, resumes should never use “I” or “my” and should be fact-focused only.

    Your resume should back up your cover letter and your cover letter should compliment your resume.

    Use that cover letter to your advantage whenever possible!

  6. Except that no one reads the cover letter. They are looking for a few buzzwords that are relevant to the job and you’re willing to work for what they can afford.

  7. I work in Electrical Engineering. I’ve never ever submitted a cover letter. Every manager I’ve worked with has told me they’ve never bothered reading the cover letter. They get 10-20 seconds to glance through a resume…forget reading a cover letter.

    Do people in other fields need to do this dog and pony show? isnt a resume good enough?

  8. While many places don’t look at cover letters anymore or even give you the option to upload one remember it can take the form of an email introduction.

    That old coworker that you’re still friendly with at a good company you want to be at too? Looking to move to a different division at your current company and have been networking with other teams?

    If someone asks you to send over your resume the email text is absolutely your cover letter. That email will be forwarded and while someone may not open an attachment labeled “cover letter” they are more likely to at least scan your email body.

  9. Yep. I’m on a search committee for essentially the CEO of my organization. While there are a few things I confirm on the resume, most resumes look the same. So the cover letter is what tells me what you value and what you n ed to use to draw the connection between your experiences and what we’re looking for (per the job advert). If you just regurgitate your resume without addressing what we’re looking for, you go straight to the reject pile.

  10. For everyone saying cover letters never get read, I am an example of someone who reads them. I’d say about 20% of applicants have them and it definitely gives you a better shot at an interview. If you are under or over qualified, it can make all the difference. Explain your situation and why you are applying.

  11. I have been on hiring panels before and started with the application questions (our postings ask a few questions to get a sense of how much experience and education the applicant has). As these positions are not entry-level, I would omit anyone marking zero experience and/or zero upper-education. From there, I read their work history and compared it to their resume. Only read the cover letters of those that had not already been weeded out. After a few hours, I had selected three out of 15 for potential interviews.

    Told my manager about my progress and he said that he had learned from his former manager to start with the cover letters. They didn’t have to be great, but if they didn’t mention our organization’s name or the position title, that it was a bad start. He suggested I go back and read the 15 cover letters and see if how many I could weed out from just those. My three selections and only two others were still there.

    The next round of applicants I weeded out by the application questions and cover letters first. It’s surprising how often someone will not list the organization name or job title. Those letters tend to be very generic and uninteresting to read. As we do a lot of communication via email (even pre-COVID), poor writing is a red flag.

  12. Cover Letter is also an opportunity to show you did some research and know something about the job roll or company. This also reflects well on your application.

  13. It’s also an opportunity to put in your values statement. What kind of employee you are. What’s important to you. Why do you want the job. Unless you have no morals, then just skip this part.

  14. Your cover letter is also the window into your personality as it’s presumed to be written in your voice. It’s the only indication on paper that anything on your resume is true.

  15. Including a cover letter won’t hurt you (unless it’s terrible). Not including one, especially if it’s requested, can cost you the job. Why chance it?

    Interviewing to hire entry level positions with my company, I was advised to skip any that didn’t include one. It was an easy way to narrow down the large pool of candidates with similar (lack of) experience.

  16. THANKS. FOR. EXPLAINING. THIS. I can’t really say how many times people gave me the wrong directions about the two.

  17. A proper resume conveys this. If the hiring manager is too dumb to read and understand that, I don’t need or want that job. It’s just indicative of a bad place to work.

  18. Hate to break it to you, but nobody reads cover letters anymore. Look it up, with all the resume applications and softwares, it became obsolete. Been in HR Management for 10 years

  19. What if I only went to school and have no true experience in the job?

    Just what I learned getting my bachelor’s to be precise.

  20. To add onto this LPT, a cover letter is also great for explaining transferrable skills – so for example if you held a retail job and you’re now applying for an administrative job, you can explain how your teamwork skills and multitasking skills from the retail job will apply to what you’re applying for!

  21. Who writes cover letter anymore? I work in IT and was told by many recruiters to not waste time on a cover letter. They just want to see my experience.

  22. I hope it’s ok to reply to my own post, but I wanted to quickly address the comments saying cover letters are useless or nobody reads them. This is entirely industry and role specific. A good rule of thumb is that the more specialized the role, the less important the cover letter (or not needed at all). In more specialized roles previous experience is simply a necessity, and no matter how logical a thinker you are or how much Starcraft you’ve played, it’s pretty tough to convince someone that you make a good full stack developer if you don’t have demonstrable previous experience.

    On the other hand, the more generic the role or the title, or the more it has to do with written or customer facing output, the more important the cover letter. It’s also often important in managerial positions even up to director level. Especially in broader, less specialized roles there’s a ton of information that is difficult to reliably convey in a CV, where you want to keep it really tight, short and factual. The cover letter can be much more important than the CV because while there are a lot of people with similar or more impressive CVs, the cover letter is where you can take the readers hand and walk them through as to why you’d be a great fit. You don’t have this control in a CV where a lot is left to the reader. Obviously you can go down that route with the CV as well, but it’s tricky and there’s a good chance that by deviating from the expected norm of the CV the impression can be more weird than positive.

    Additionally the bigger the company you are applying for the more rigid and process-like the hiring and the less room there is for the cover letter, although there are a lot of exceptions. On the other hand, in smaller companies it has way more potential.

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Written by nairaab chief

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