Posted By Amanda Collins on August 19, 2013
I work with a number of job seekers each month, and the question often arises about the need for cover letters when they apply for a job or send a resume. “Should I send a cover letter when applying online?” they ask. My answer, simply, is yes, but it actually can be a little more than just that.
Do People Actually Read the Cover Letter?
The truth is that most employers and recruiters don’t actually read the cover letter. However, most of those who do read it do so AFTER they’ve read the resume. So you want to make sure that your pertinent information comes across in the resume first and is just cemented in the resume. (You can learn more about how to write a great cover letter in our blog.)
Regardless, I always suggest a cover letter because it’s just, well, nicer. You don’t walk up to someone and say, “Hi, I’m Joe; hire me.” Instead, you offer a bit of your value proposition and information about why they should take some time to learn about you. It’s more of a complete presentation when you include a cover letter.
How to Include a Cover Letter When Applying Online
So you’ve decided that a cover letter is a good idea. Now how do you go about uploading that letter to an online application? On some sites, there will be a separate “attach” or “upload” button specifically for your cover letter. If not, you can always include it at the front of your resume document. When emailing, it’s usually best to include the body of your cover letter in the body of the email itself and attach the resume.
What’s the Real Benefit of a Cover Letter?
Well, in addition to being a nice presentation, a cover letter allows you to share more personality and information than is appropriate on a formal resume. For instance, if you are in sales and have a habit of taking donuts on calls, that might be something worthy of sharing in a cover letter. Only if it resulted in sales would you include it on a resume — and even then, it’s unlikely it was just donuts that snagged you the contract.
Some companies actually request a cover letter just so they can get a sense of who you are, knowing that resumes are pretty formal. If you are asked for a letter, by all means, make sure you include one!
So Should I Send a Cover Letter When Applying Online?
So the next time you wonder, “Should I send a cover letter when applying online?” remember that we say yes. If you have questions about your resume or cover letter, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.