You’re about to email your resume to someone. Before you hit the enter key, you wonder if you should include a cover letter. You did write a short email so the recipient knows why you’re sending your resume. Is including a cover letter really necessary?
If so, what’s the most important information to include in a cover letter?
I’ve seen on-line resume services charge for writing a cover letter. Is it worth paying for?
As a long-time Executive Recruiter who’s read thousands of resumes, I don’t have a clue why anyone would write a cover letter—let alone pay for one.
I rarely read cover letters.
I know they used to be a big deal back in the days when you sent your resume via snail mail. Now, email is the preferred delivery method. Writing an email message is important. Including a cover letter is a waste of energy. I don’t even include them in my resume data base. Believe me. If a hiring manager or recruiter is looking through a big stack of resumes, they are not anxious to read something else. If you have something important to say about your experience, put it in the resume.
Following are some blunders I’ve seen on email messages and cover letters. Read these and don’t repeat!
Blunder #1—Including a relocated address on the cover letter, not the resume.
A candidate was relocating to California from somewhere else. She dutifully reported that information in her cover letter, however, her resume showed her old address. She was surprised to find out, when she followed up, that most of the people she sent her resume to filed her away as living out of state.
The lesson here is that if you are relocating, show an address where you are relocating to on your resume (even if it is only a city and state), and even if it’s only a temporary address like the address of a friend or relative. Don’t get filed away because the person who is screening resumes thinks you live out of state.
Blunder #2—Writing a cover book or email book, not letter.
I’ve seen long emails and cover letters with big paragraphs. Sure, I’ll scan an email to see why I’m getting a resume. The longer the email, the less likely I’ll catch important information. I won’t read the cover letter.
Keep your emails short. It’s more likely it will get read.
Blunder #3—Updating the most current position on the cover letter or email, but not the resume.
Why would someone do this? I often wondered. Is it easier to write your most current experience in a cover letter or email? Always send an updated resume. Remember, most cover letters don’t get read, nor do they get included in resume data bases. If an email is included in resume data base, they’re buried in the comments section—likely to never get read again.
Blunder #4—Including accomplishments on email messages and cover letters, but not on the resume.
Accomplishments are key to selling your value proposition. Considering, again, that most cover letters don’t get read or included in resume data bases, doesn’t it make sense to include your accomplishments on your resume?
Yes, I’m a big fan of including a targeted accomplishment (or two) in your email message. That’s a great way to get the email recipient to open your resume and read it. It’s totally fine to repeat an accomplishment you already have on your resume.
Blunder #5—Not writing appropriate information in the email message.
Here’s what needs to go in your email message.
- Why you are sending your resume (who referred you, or your interest in the company, or in response to an open position).
- Why should the recipient be interested in hiring you? Do you have specific experience or skills that the company wants?
- Include one or two short accomplishments where you saved a prior employer (or client) time or money, or made money. This is how you sell yourself.
- If you anticipate that the hiring manager will have a concern, provide an explanation (like a long gap in your resume, or frequent job changes.)
- Include your contact information on the email. Remember bullet points get read more often than paragraphs.
- If you are relocating, when will you be in town available to interview.
- I’m a big fan of including what your current compensation is or what it was at your last position. State that you are looking for a fair offer and that you are negotiable. Keep the door open.
There you have it. Don’t bother with a cover letter. Instead, write an email when you send your resume—an email that will help to get your resume read.
Let’s break barriers together!
Dolores, The Running Recruiter
Email me at email@example.com to get a FREE copy of my new E-book, What Goes On In The Mind Of A Recruiter . . . When Deciding On Which Resumes To Read; Sending Candidates On Interviews; Negotiating The Best Salary Offer.
Looking for tools to find your dream job? Check this out.
Dreams really do come true! Read about my upcoming book Breaking Barriers. Middle age is not the transition to old age, but the transition to mastery—the mastery of a life of learning and experience. It’s our time to shine.
Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net