Ask a Recruiter-Are cover letters still relevant and worth the time?

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Carll Wilkinson has been with Smith & Wilkinson for almost 20 years and as the managing partner and CEO he provides professional level, director level, and C-Suite search services to organizations across the Northeast.  In addition to conducting numerous CEO searches; he has successfully completed dozens of searches in the areas of commercial, consumer, and residential lending, retail banking, technology, credit, risk, audit, compliance, operations, finance and accounting, and wealth management.  Carll has been a contributor to various banking publications including Banking New England, Connecticut Banking Magazine, and Massachusetts Banker, and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Banker & Tradesman, The Commercial Record, and SNL. Have a question for Carll? Shoot him an email with the subject line “Ask a Recruiter”!

Q: Are cover letters still relevant and worth the time?

In today’s competitive job market, job seekers often wonder whether cover letters are still essential. With the rise of digital applications and the emphasis on resumes and LinkedIn profiles, some may question the relevance of this traditional job application component. However, cover letters continue to play a crucial role in the job search process, offering unique benefits that can significantly impact a candidate’s success.

Personalized Introduction: A cover letter provides an opportunity for applicants to introduce themselves beyond the limitations of a resume. It allows candidates to convey their motivations, aspirations, and personality, providing hiring managers with a glimpse into their character and professionalism. By customizing the cover letter to each application, candidates can demonstrate a genuine interest in the specific role and company, setting themselves apart from generic applications.

Showcasing Skills and Experience: While a resume highlights a candidate’s professional experience and qualifications, a cover letter allows them to delve deeper into their skills and accomplishments. Candidates can use the cover letter to elaborate on their relevant experiences, emphasizing how their background aligns with the job requirements. This narrative approach can enhance the reader’s understanding of the candidate’s suitability for the role and make a compelling case for their candidacy.

Addressing Potential Concerns: A cover letter provides an opportunity to address any potential red flags in a candidate’s application, such as employment gaps or career changes. By proactively acknowledging and explaining these aspects, candidates can mitigate concerns and present a more comprehensive picture of their professional journey. This transparency can build trust with hiring managers and demonstrate the candidate’s ability to handle challenges professionally.

Expressing Enthusiasm and Fit: Beyond qualifications, employers seek candidates who are enthusiastic about the opportunity and aligned with the company’s values and culture. A well-crafted cover letter allows candidates to express their enthusiasm for the role and company, showcasing their understanding of the organization’s mission and how they can contribute to its success. This demonstration of fit can resonate with hiring managers seeking candidates who are not only qualified but also passionate about the opportunity.

In conclusion, while the format of job applications may evolve, the cover letter remains a valuable tool for job seekers. When crafted thoughtfully, it serves as a personalized introduction, a platform to showcase skills and experiences, a means to address concerns, and an opportunity to express enthusiasm and fit. By leveraging the unique benefits of a cover letter, candidates can enhance their job applications and stand out in a competitive job market.

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