How much does a cover letter matter?

How important is a cover letter?

By Sam Shelton

You graduated with the appropriate degree.  You perfected your resume.  You checked the proper boxes and completed the necessary fields.

Now, as you reach the finish line of a 10-25 minute application process, they’re asking for more?

Do they really think you have any time or energy left to write a 250-word cover letter, essentially selling them on why you’re a fit for the position?

Does anyone even read cover letters?

Hi, I’m Sam Shelton, I’m a recruiter and yes, I read your cover letters.

But more importantly, I take note when you simply write “N/A” in the box.

I feel there’s a shift happening within IT recruitment at the moment.  I feel as if more and more candidates feel they don’t have to do as much to apply for a position – I mean, you have the degree and work experience – isn’t that enough?

Well, sure – but enough for what?  What are you trying to accomplish?

Are you just dotting your “i’s” and crossing your “t’s – basically, doing the bare minimum within in the application process?  Is that really how you want to represent yourself to a company who could potentially pair you with the perfect position?

Are you a bare minimum candidate?

Beyond how a recruiter might view a “Not Applicable” in place of an actual cover letter, always assume that you are not the only person applying to a position.

Beyond the competition and the potential of being buried in a sea of resumes, how are you going to stand out?

Cover letters are a great opportunity to set yourself apart and let your personality shine.  Let’s face it, resumes today are no more than a formal LinkedIn profile crammed on a PDF or Word document.

But a cover letter… that’s the chance to highlight your most applicable skills matching the position you’re seeking.  Cover letters are also a great way to set yourself apart, not only with your personality shining through, but going a step above the other applicants who avoided this critical opportunity.

If you were to view an application as a job interview, would you ever say to a hiring manager, “N/A?”

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