Admit it. You find a job posting that piques your interest, you get ready to submit your resume, and then you see it. “Cover Letter Required.” The excuses start forming in your head. “I don’t have time to write a cover letter. I don’t know what to say. They probably won’t even read it. Maybe I don’t want this job after all.”
In my 7+ years as a recruiter for a top management consulting firm, I can tell you one thing about cover letters – we do read them, and often they can influence our decision on whether or not to interview an applicant. The best cover letters answer three questions:
- Why this company? Use your cover letter to show that you’ve done your research – you know what the company does, you understand their mission, and you want to be part of it.
- Why this job/role? Show the employer that you understand the job description and verbalize why this particular job opening is one that excites you. Maybe it’s the opportunity to lead your own projects, interact with clients, be on a team – let us know why you are applying for the role.
- Why YOU? Your resume can list your accomplishments, but it can often be tough to tailor it in a way that describes why you are the best candidate for the role. Use your cover letter to provide a bit more detail about some of the academic and extracurricular experiences that have helped you develop the skills/qualifications we are looking for in a new hire – explain why we should hire you!
Finally, think about using the cover letter as a way to show off your communication and writing skills – great cover letters answer the questions above in a succinct yet thorough way (with correct spelling and grammar, of course!) and can often be the best opportunity to show a potential employer why you are the perfect fit for the role.
Betsy Uddin, G’12
Senior Specialist with Global Recruiting at Bain & Company