The Exclusive Career Coach

The Exclusive Career Coach

077: Cover Letter - Yes or No?

May 01, 2019


This month, we’re covering the marketing documents you need for your job search – your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.

Today, let’s talk about the cover letter. I get a lot of questions about whether a cover letter is necessary…relevant…in today’s job market.

I’m borrowing heavily from the website and author Debbie Carreau for this episode.

Here are three reasons not to submit a cover letter:

1. You have no interest in customizing a cover letter for that position. If you aren’t willing to take the time to make that letter specific to that company and that position, you may be doing yourself harm by submitting a cover letter.

I would add that if there here are errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation in your cover letter, you are doing more harm than good. Make sure the cover letter is as error-free as your resume.

2. You are not providing the reader with any new information. If all you’re doing is rehashing the exact verbiage of your resume, you aren’t helping yourself.

3. If all you’re doing is telling them how you would improve the company, save that for the interview. You risk coming across as a know-it-all by providing this information in the cover letter.

When to include a cover letter (NOTE: the default is to include a cover letter; these three situations below are the times you really MUST include a cover letter.)

1. When you have a personal connection or referral. Mention the name of the person who has referred you to the company and position.

2. You have a connection to that company. If you’ve had an internship there or worked with that company in some other capacity, be sure to mention in the cover letter.

3. If this is your dream job. While I don’t necessarily want you to tell the employer they are your #1 choice, I do want you to show your enthusiasm about the opportunity to work there.

Virtually all ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) will allow you to attach your cover letter as a PDF when applying.

Here’s how I approach writing the cover letter: I have already identified my client’s brand attributes (what makes them different; what they bring to the table that differentiates them from their competition) in writing their resume. I then take three of those brand attributes and create a paragraph for each in their cover letter.

Here’s an example: if my client is in marketing and one of their brand attributes is data analytics, I’m going to provide two-three examples of when they utilized this skill in their various jobs, internships, or class projects.

I’m not repeating what is in their resume verbatim; rather, I am reconstituting the facts from their resume in their cover letter.


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