Under Construction

November 30th, 2010

Just a quick note to say that I am working on this blog.  Some of my blog postings, if not all, will probably be made public again – but I’m not sure since it’s been created for class purposes.  If you are a frequent visitor and enjoy reading my posts – thank you!  I apologize if any comments were deleted along with all the spam I’d gotten!

Why Write A Cover Letter?

July 10th, 2010

Once considered the expected first impression on paper, the cover letter has come under scrutiny recently and deemed unnecessary.  However, the dust hasn’t settled yet and people are still torn as they get mixed messages about whether or not to include cover letters in their job searching efforts.  I will attempt to clear the air a bit and make a final argument.  In fact, I do think cover letters are beneficial and should be used.

I found many arguments backing me up and I also found many resources claiming cover letters were more of a hindrance to ones job searching efforts.  For example, according to ResumeLogic, “Ninety percent of all cover letters are never read, or scanned.”  Whether or not that percentage is completely accurate, I get their point.  ResumeLogic continues on to explain that they think it’s a waste of time since most cover letters are poorly written.  However, they also remind readers that “a well-written cover letter will persuade the reader to pay special attention to your resume.”

An article on the CareerPerfect website called When a Cover Letter is Needed even goes so far as to recommend when it is more appropriate to not include cover letters.  For example, “a cover letter is not needed if you are hand carrying a resume to a prearranged interview since you will be present to introduce yourself” and there is also no need for one “if you are delivering the resume to a recruiter or during a networking event such as a career fair.”  That may be true, but why throw away opportunities to highlight your strengths and talents?  In Cover Your Bases with a Savvy Cover Letter in the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Kimberly Thompson says “the best cover letters not only serve as an introduction but also show detective work, sales pitch and personal appeal, establishing vital context, tone and perspective.”

One letter can really say so much about a person that skipping it seems to be such a waste.  In fact, cover letters can “help separate you from the pack,” according to Max Messmer in his article Cover Letter Needs a Strong Opening from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  He goes on to say, “It’s a particularly beneficial tool for recent graduates and people changing careers or re-entering the work force after a long break.”  Also, in the article You Have Your Foot in the Door.  How to Keep it There:  Wrong Way to Interview in the Boston Globe by Scott Kirsner, Mariana Bugallo-Muros, a Human Resources Director, is quoted as recommending that cover letters be written in order to “fill in the gaps on your resume and tell your story better.  What is it that has connected all the jobs you’ve had?”  These are such important details in ones job history that the hiring manager can know about ahead of time, possibly putting you on the fast track to an interview.

Kat Neville from Smashing Magazine went ahead and interviewed many media company professionals and got their opinions on cover letters for her article What Makes a Great Cover Letter, According to Companies? Those who are against cover letters include many different reasons why.  Neville states that more than half of those that she interviewed said, “Traditional cover letters don’t have any impact on them.  We’re in an age in which Googling reveals a lot about someone.  Others say that they only work with people they know.”  The latter reason is something that many job seekers do not want to hear.  But, for those who may not have a connection in the industry, there is good news coming from people who are against cover letters.  In the Smashing Magazine article, Daimon Caulk of Modal Inc. was quoted as saying, “As more and more people meet, are recruited, use social media and apply for jobs in different ways, the best jobs will be taken by those who can network and go the extra mile.  Start networking, set up a Twitter account, do something new and impressive, and when you approach a big company, they’re more likely to notice you.”

Many creative professionals in Neville’s article agreed that the cover letter is downright archaic.  Richard Banfield from Fresh Tilled Soil said, “In general, I think the era of the cover letter is gone.  That puts it in the same dead category as the resume and traditional interview.”  Chris Teso of The Good said that “we couldn’t care less about resumes, let alone whether a cover letter is attached” and Allan Branch of Less Everything mentioned that “in a creative industry anyone who sends us a cover letter isn’t being creative, and I’d delete it.”  Those were pretty straightforward reasons why people going for jobs in creative industries may want to rethink the cover letter.  That being said, those were only a handful of companies that were quoted, and in creative industries, at that.  There are many more creative companies that still welcome cover letters and even more companies in other industries that require them.

After reading many reasons against cover letters and many for them, I think that the arguments for them are very strong and the reasons against are fewer and farther between and are simply a matter of taste, usually in a more creative company.  Obviously, though, the only cover letters that should be written are ones that are written well.  And, if the statistic above from ResumeLogic is accurate, then there is a very small window of time for one to make an impact, but an impact is an impact.  As  Brian D. Aitken from Halo Media LLC said in Smashing Magazine, “The whole gig is about first impressions, isn’t it?”

Cited:

Kirsner, Scott. “You have your foot in the door. How to keep it there: Wrong way to interview.” Boston Globe 10 Jan. 2010, ProQuest National Newspapers Premier, ProQuest. Web. 10 Jul. 2010.

Thompson, K. “Cover Your Bases with a Savvy Cover Letter.” Phi Kappa Phi Forum 89.3 (2009): 25-25. Research Library Core. ProQuest. Web. 10 Jul. 2010.

Messmer, Max. “Cover Letter Needs A Strong Opening.” Pittsburgh Post – Gazette 18 Apr. 2010, ProQuest National Newspapers Premier. ProQuest. Web. 10 Jul. 2010.

Neville, Kat. “What Makes A Great Cover Letter, According to Companies?”  Smashing Magazine 25 Mar.  2010. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/03/25/what-makes-a-great-cover-letter-according-to-companies/

“When a Cover Letter is Needed.”  CareerPerfect. 1996-2010. http://www.careerperfect.com/content/resume-writing-help-resume-cover-letter-when-to-use/

“Engineer Resume Cover Letter Truths.”  ResumeLogic. Think Resources, Inc. 2005. http://www.resumelogic.com/cover-letter.htm