Cover Letter Needed to Take to an Interview?


This posting is a guest entry from the Career Doctor, Randall S. Hansen, PhD: Kris writes: Should I have a cover letter to accompany my resume when I go for an interview on Tuesday? If you can assist me in any way I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time.
The Career Doctor responds: The main purpose of a cover letter is to entice a prospective employer to review your resume in consideration for a job interview, and since you have cut through the process and already have an interview, a cover letter seems unnecessary at this point. Do make sure your resume is sharp in appearance and directed specifically at the job you are seeking. Just as you would write a different cover letter for each position, so too should you tweak your resume for each position. Instead of the cover letter, if you have a portfolio of samples of your work experience, bring it along to the interview. And be sure to bring multiple copies of your resume. And before the interview, be sure to brush up on the types of questions you are expecting in the interview. You don’t want to memorize your answers, but you do want to have a basic story prepared so that you will showcase your experience and fit. Let me just add a final comment about cover letters. First, when you are applying for any position — unless the employer specifically requests you not send one — you should always send a cover letter and resume as part of your job-search package. Your cover letter should be brief and specifically address why you are the perfect candidate for the position. Cover letters should be no longer than 3-5 short paragraphs — and never longer than one page. You can read more about special cover letter formats that grab employers’ attention, as well as find lots more articles and tools in the cover letter section of Quintessential Careers.