Harvard Career Experts Weigh in on Effective Cover Letters (Source CNBC)

Cover letters: something you wouldn’t think of as controversial. But people differ in opinion when it comes to using cover letters and whether they really are an effective tool in the job search.  A veteran Certified Career Development Practitioner (CCDP) here at the LEHC once used this metaphor. A cover letter is like gift wrap; the resume of course being the gift. Anytime you give a gift, it is pretty much assumed that it will come wrapped. What would be the fun otherwise, right? Well, you might say, “I just tear through the gift wrap and throw it in the garbage because all I really want is the gift, not the wrapping.” Still, the expectation is there regardless so as a job seeker you are likely to set yourself apart in a bad way without a cover letter when Human Resources is flipping through those two hundred resumes it just received for one opening.

And, a cover letter can really make all the difference if it is done right. This is your chance to make your case as a human being, a living, breathing, interested, and passionate human being. This is where you can set yourself apart. But it takes time, and a lot of focus and energy. With the eventual exhaustion of a job search, this energy can be hard to come by. You start just changing a couple of names and submitting it because it only takes 20 minutes that way, not 60 or 90. If you invest the time in really customizing the cover letter, the return will be much more advantageous to your job search success. Remember, though, a cover letter is only one piece of the active job search puzzle. Stay tuned for a resource to help you target your cover letters and make them more impactful. In the meantime, you can read what Harvard Career Experts have to say here.