When is a Cover Letter Necessary?

So you’ve spent hours crafting the perfect cover letter and are surprised when it doesn’t yield you the
result you want – an interview. What could you have done better?

The beauty of working with a good recruiter is that you may not need a cover letter at all. A cover letter serves the purpose of introducing yourself and your qualifications to the employer and identifying the position or area in which you are interested. This letter is a tool to get the employer’s attention and to prompt the employer to take the next step with you – to have them talk with you either in person or on the phone.

When the company has engaged a recruiter they know their interests are being met up front and that they are only seeing the best candidates which fit their needs. So the first ‘cover letter’ they get is a verbal endorsement from the recruiter. At that point the cover letter acts as action statement for you. If a recruiter has decided that you’re a good fit for the job and presents you to their client then that hiring manager already knows their time would be well spent in a conversation with you.

If you are pursuing an opportunity outside of a recruiting relationship then a cover letter is a crucial tool. There is plenty of advice out there on how to write a good cover letter and if you are reading this, you have most likely read those posts, too. You understand enough about first impressions; you get the concept of writing from the buyer’s/employer’s point of view, now what remains is to make sure that the end product is not just good but GREAT (click here for a humorous and informative piece on what NOT to do when writing your cover letter).

We can distill our advice down to a core concept: If you’ve got the goods for the position, state it fast, state it succinctly and state it confidently.

Cover letters can be too long and all begin to sound alike. Make a statement about yourself which generates excitement.

“I created the department (or program) from scratch, on time and under budget, to excellent reviews. I want to do the same for you.” Let them know that you (and your Mom) are not the only people who think you are great. “I can provide comprehensive and enthusiastic references.” Show them that you are more than a set of skills. Pique their interest and curiosity in you and you will get a call.

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