Job applications require you to submit a resume, but cover letters are not always a requirement. I’ve been told by many to submit a cover letter even when it is optional to get some brownie points since you took an extra step to provide them with more information about your background.
This article points out the significant differences between a cover letter and a resume and explain the importance to have both. If you want to know more about resumes and first focus your attention there, check out my post about Building A Resume. It will be soon when I will have an article about Writing A Cover Letter – stay tuned!
Resumes will contain specific information about the job experiences that you’ve had in the past and if applicable currently. It will include the specific dates of your past job experience, your education, and any skills that you have. Each job that you put into your resume should contain a couple of bullet points about what you did during that time.
Employers will usually only take a couple of seconds to scan your resume and see if you are qualified for the job. A strong resume will have the correct terminology and have experiences very similar to the job description.
Some people may think a cover letter is very similar to a cover letter of one of your papers that you turn into your professor, but let me tell you it’s not. Cover letters can actually play a huge factor into whether or not you would get considered for the job. This allows you to elaborate more on the specific job experiences that closely matches the job post. An employer will read this to see if you have the writing skills to the actual hands on experience for the job.
Sometimes an employer will request a cover letter as a way to eliminate candidates that are too lazy to write a cover letter. I know employers who have even informed me that they don’t read cover letters, but actually look forward to the interview to see if the resume they’ve submitted is true.
Should you submit a cover letter?
Ultimately, it is up to you to submit a cover letter. It can never hurt to submit a cover letter unless you do not spend the time to write a decent cover letter. You can use your judgement and determine whether or not it would be worth your time to write a strong cover letter and a strong resume. It is always important to have a strong resume and cover letter, but say for example you are trying to find a job really quickly – maybe emphasizing more on having a strong resume is a priority.
Here are some other articles that address this topic: