There is one question that I get from almost every person I work with.
“Do I need to send a cover letter with my resume?”
I’ve written about cover letters more times than I can count, but there are clearly factors – likely misinformation on the web and outlier hiring practices being promoted as standard practice – that are confusing readers and prompting this question. So, let me definitively answer it (again): Unless a job posting specifically requests that you not send a cover letter (a very rare occurrence), a cover letter is both expected and important. Here’s why:
Protocol – I know from my experience “on the other side of the table” – both as an HR professional and the current consulting I do with business clients – that the cover letter is (in most cases) still a key part of the candidate selection process.
Perspective – Many clients share that they wish hiring managers knew more about them than what is just on the resume. The good news is that hiring managers want to know more too, and the cover letter is designed to provide that additional perspective. Take advantage of the opportunity to share more about yourself – your skills, your passion, your interest in the specific role – and help decision makers understand what differentiates you from other candidates.
Process – Selecting job candidates is typically a multi-stage process of whittling down qualified applicants. Throughout those conversations and series of decisions, information you provide in a cover letter can make all the difference. Simply put, the cover letter will become meaningful in different ways as your application makes it through the multi-stage selection process.
When applying for a position, don’t eschew standard practices or pass up the opportunity to share more about why you are an ideal candidate. Send a cover letter.