Published on Feb. 17, 2021
Cover letters are unique to the job search and unlike any other letter you will likely write. Lots of students ask us, “Should I send a cover letter?” and “Is it worth the time creating one”? Our answer is always a resounding: Yes! Cover letters seem to get a bad rap and this blog will dispel some of the myths and urban legends that surround them!
Myth #1 No one ever reads cover letters
While the majority of HR recruiters don’t immediately look at a cover letter, they are more likely to read it if they like what they see on an applicant’s resume. Also, according to a 2020 recruitment survey of top executives, 58% indicated that a cover letter was “very valuable” in their interview decision. If you are evaluating to equal candidates, the cover letter can be the deciding factor on who gets the interview! Unless a job listing explicitly says not to send a cover letter, you should always plan to send one!
Myth #2 Cover letters should summarize your resume
Cover letters should specifically highlight the skills and experiences you possess that are desired by the employer and required for the job or internship. You need to put your resume into context and not just re-state the facts that appear on it. For example, instead of stating you are graduating in May with a degree in English, highlight that you are a passionate writer that eagerly wants to use your editing background and strategic mindset to assist the corporate communications team. Your letter should certainly reference your resume, but expand on your background and talents, using examples and directly addressing the qualifications the employer is seeking.
Myth #3 Cover letters help you land a job
A cover letter is a part of your overall application with the goal of getting an interview where you can meet someone face-to-face (or via Zoom these days!) to make your case for the job. You are writing this the letter to market yourself and demonstrate you are a good fit for their firm. To help make a compelling case you are good fit, do lots of research on the company and find those points of connection.
Myth #4 Cover letters are about you
This might seem like an odd statement but the cover letter should be about the employer. As fabulous as you are, you need to translate your achievements to the position and hiring organization. Avoid statements about what you will get out of the job and why it’s helpful to you. Instead, focus on what you can do for the employer and how you will help fulfill their mission.
Cover letters can be hard to write, so please remember that the MU Career Center is ready to assist you! I’d encourage you to look at these resources:
And remember, our staff is available by Zoom 9:00 AM-4:00 PM, M-F, if you’d like help getting started or having your letter reviewed.