Should cover letters really be less than a page long or include some witty lines to stand out from the pack? MainStreet asks career experts whether these and other commonly held beliefs are fact or fiction.
Though cover letters have long been part of the job application process, the rules of crafting the perfect letter remain vague at best. If the resume is a space to list your relevant work experience, then what more should you include in your cover letter? Should it just restate what’s in the resume? And beyond the content, what guidelines are there for the tone and length of the cover letter, if any? Before we can sort out the real rules for cover letters from the misguided ones, it’s essential to understand the purpose that cover letters serve today in the digital age. “You have to imagine a hiring manager going through 100 applications and making the decision whether to click or download the resume that’s attached,” said Penelope Trunk, a popular blogger and CEO of the Brazen Careerist, a career management site. “The point of a cover letter is to get them to open that attachment, and the goal of the resume is to get them to interview you.” For that reason, Trunk and other experts say that the cover letter is a necessity, but the rules that some follow when crafting these letters are often mistaken. Photo Credit: bpsusf