Myth 1: You need to explain the purpose of your letter in detail in the opening paragraph.
Reality: Modern hiring managers know what a cover letter is. So you don’t need to launch into your letter with a long flowery statement that describes the purpose of the text below. Simply opening with “I’d like to apply for the position of Associate Accounts Manager that I found advertised on LiveCareer.com” will suffice. If you’d like, you can add an additional phrase hinting at your qualifications, like “I’m an experienced, certified Accounts Manager and I’d like to apply for the open position in your Phoenixville office.”
Myth 2: Cover letters should include three paragraphs—no more, no less.
Reality: It’s true that cover letters should be short—ideally, one page will be long enough to cover everything. But the standard three-paragraph model isn’t required by law, and if you have more detail to add or a better way of describing your qualifications, managers won’t drop dead on the spot if they’re asked to read something that doesn’t fit this exact formula. Just stay brief, clear, and relevant.
Myth 3: Nobody really reads cover letters, so it doesn’t matter if you omit the letter altogether.
Reality: Managers read cover letters all the time, and they often read them before they take even one glance at the resume or work samples that are included as attachments. Career counselors like to talk about the value of a strong resume, but honestly, cover letters are the documents that truly get a candidacy off the ground. Put some thought and care into your cover letter, and by all means, don’t omit it altogether. Even if a letter isn’t required, be smart and include one anyway.
Myth 4: Cover letters are meaningless. Just say: “I’d like to apply for the job you posted. Please see my attached resume,” and you’ll be fine.
You’ll be fine as long as two things are true: First, your credentials are so magnificent they literally speak for themselves. And second, nobody else is applying for the job except you. It’s not hard to choose a candidate when you have only one applicant in your pool. But this is rarely the case. So take some time to craft a smart, personable and thoughtful cover letter, and you’ll gain an edge over your equally qualified competitors.