Job Search Myth: Cover Letters Are Not Important

October 7th, 2013 | Articles, Job Search, Resume | No Comments »


A job search can be hard enough as it is without having to separate helpful tips from outright falsehoods. Some are blatantly wrong while others, having been around for so long, almost have squatter’s rights in the territory of the truth. So, where is the line? Which job search recommendations are just plain wrong? We’re here to dispel long-standing myths one fake tip at a time.

Myth: Cover Letters Are Unimportant

The myth suggests that cover letters are basically redundant. Anyone who believes this myth will tell you that a resume achieves everything that a cover letter could do and more. They’ll remind you that resumes should be customized to the position and the company you are applying for anyway, so the added time spent on a document that will ultimately be overlooked is wasteful.

This job search myth also relies on the growing prevalence of resume screening software. The misconception is that these programs independently scan for keywords without any human oversight. In all honestly, most managers only use these tools as a supplement to their own screening process. The job search myth follows the logic that if your resume has a sufficient number of strong keywords, a cover letter will only have a negligible added impact.

Fact: Cover Letters Are Essential

By listening to this job search myth, you cut yourself off from several of the critical advantages that cover letters can provide.

The average amount of time a hiring manager spends on a resume is 6 seconds. The average amount of time a hiring manager spends on a cover letter is 20 seconds. Cover letters buy you much more time to state your case and convince hiring managers that you’re worthy of an interview.

Additionally, a hiring manager will often read a cover letter before the resume since the ability to successfully communicate is a prerequisite for any position. In a resume, you need to sell yourself but the entire format leans more towards a statistic heavy, snapshot approach. Cover letters are more dependent upon a clear narrative and require you to communicate your qualifications from start to finish. If you have no cover letter, you give the impression that you are not serious about stating your case for the position.

by James Walsh

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