2/6/12

Recruitment and Selection Strategy: How Important Is Attaching a Cover Letter While Applying for Any Job?

Question by Netra Patel on LinkedIn,

It depends a lot on the job. If someone is applying for a skilled worker position like carpenter or welder, the recruiter is not going to care much about a cover letter. They will most probably ask all candidates to come for real work tests to see who is better at doing the job. So, don't bother with a cover letter unless they ask for it in the ad placed for the job.

If you are applying for an entry level position that you expect a few hundred others to apply too (like let's say call center agent), use a cover letter, but keep it as short as possible - you may even include it in your resume at the beginning under the "Professional objective" section. The recruiter is probably going to have time to read maximum 3-4 words out of it. Imagine the time someone needs to go through 500 resumes. They will search just for some keywords then reject the resume or move it to the pile of candidates to go through first tests (i.e. language skills tests or Excel written tests and so on depending on the position). Most probably your CV/resume will be in front of the recruiter for about 1 minute max, so don't waste your time on a long cover letter that nobody will read, but focus on having a good structured CV.

And finally, if you are applying to a middle level to senior or management position, it is advisable to use a cover letter. The recruiter will give more attention to each candidate and will have the time to read it. Make sure you adapt it to the job so that the recruiter knows that you want to work for their company and are really interested in the job. If you can find a contact person's name (I mean the recruiter or a manager in the company) use it to make it more personal.

All in all, a cover letter should have maximum 3 paragraphs. Nobody will have time to read more unless there are only a few candidates applying for a top management position. First paragraph - mention what job you are applying for and where you found it, when it was published etc, second paragraph: mention why you see yourself as the best candidate for the job, what skills and knowledge you bring to the company, third paragraph - thank them for the time taken to read your application and mention that you are available to offer details and to meet them for an interview.

Take care and good luck with the applications,
Geo

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