The Truth About Cover Letters (That You Don’t Want to Hear)


Let me have a confessional moment here first: I hate cover letters. My clients hate cover letters. Some employers don’t even read them (probably because they hate them, too.) (and many (even most?) recruiters don’t want them, though always check)

Sometimes, they can make a difference in getting noticed though. 

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And it’s IMPOSSIBLE to know how much the cover letter (and it’s style and content) will, or will not, matter to any given reader/company.

That THAT’S why we all hate them. All those unknowns. (and they are a lot of work for all that unknown impact, too!) They’re a lot more ambiguous than what works and is expected with a resume.

I’m saying this job search truth flat out because I know you want to get it ‘right’ and say it all and say it all ‘right’… and I just needed to reality check you about how, well, ridiculous a lot of the guess work and variables of job search can be.

I know most people want a confident “how to”, such as: “Here’s what you do and this will work! It’s a secret formula and I have it for you!” Most want that type of assurance.

To me, that’s just dishonest and misleading, though.

To ME, I think just being genuinely yourself AND within standard professional guidelines is really the best way to go.

Take cues from the company brand, noticing the languaging and style on their website, their job ad, etc. to help guide you to the best approach.

And most importantly: remember, EVERY LETTER needs to be *customized* (so no ‘cookie cutters’/one size fits all letters!) though sometimes some content can be copied/pasted (and tweaked) to use in more than one letter.)

Check out this post too:
Real Bad Cover Letters (Cover Letters that are REAL, and, really bad!”)

It’s one of those things that writers that just want to give clients what clients want (and think they need) that do this type of thing – “One custom cover letter guaranteed to WOW the reader!” offer….(and wouldn’t it be GREAT if that actually worked!! One great letter and done! ? Don’t we wish!)…

But… it doesn’t, and so to imply it does, I think is just wrong. There is NOT just ONE letter that will do that (unless it’s customized to ONE employer/job ad). So what I do instead with educating clients about options, and practicing with my input is what I know the client NEEDS more. 

So now that you know 1) we all hate them and 2) you need to write one (and a GOOD one) anyway, it’s time for 3) HOW to write a good, solid, customized cover letter.

Check out this post: Writing an Attention Getting Cover Letter for details…