Cover letters can be a pain to write. Resumes are hard enough to write, if you haven’t done one in a while, now you have to write a cover letter as well? What for? You don’t even know if the employer will read the cover letter. Why would you spend time writing something that gets tossed in the bin without being read?
The myth around if a cover letter gets read is easy to eliminate because cover letters do get read. However, they only get 3 seconds of the employer’s attention. Why would you invest time and effort in something that only gets 3 seconds? There are a few good reasons:
- It could buy more time for the rest of your application. A resume typically gets less than 5 seconds of the employer’s time. Provided that you write a good cover letter, it acts as an introduction to you as the job applicant. See the letter as a way to make a connection with the employer: it provides an overview of you, it may show a little of your personality, and it gives a prelude to the key skills that make you suitable for the job. Furthermore, receiving a cover letter indicates that you have invested effort in your application, employers unconsciously reward more time to those who have spent more efforts. The result is it gets the employer to take a closer look at your resume – more than the 5 seconds that they’d give other candidates.
- It is another channel whereby you could ‘sell’ yourself to a potential employer. Why wouldn’t you want to take it? Give yourself as much exposure as possible by writing a cover letter to accompany your job application. One thing to take note is to make sure your cover letter and resume are consistent and coherent. Inconsistency creates confusion and doubt in the mind of an employer. When they are confused or in doubt, they’re more likely to discard your application than to give you the benefit of the doubt.
- It sets you apart from the other candidates. Receiving a cover letter as part of the job application is becoming rare. So if you write one, and if you write it well, the cover letter could genuinely help you stand out from all the other job applicants.
Investing the time to write a good cover letter pays dividends. It is not a waste of your time or effort. The cover letter serves an important function, and it is a key influencer in how well your application is received by the employer. Time to start writing one!