Do you really need a cover letter when you apply for jobs? Can you get by with just a resume? Or is sending a quick message to a contact on LinkedIn, for example, enough? Does it matter how you outreach to potential employers and how you promote your accomplishments - and yourself? How about if the company doesn't ask for a letter? Should you include a cover letter even when it's not required?
I asked several career experts for their take on cover letters. Susan Heathfield, About.com's Guide to Human Resources, says, "Your cover letter is particularly important. It's the job searcher's opportunity to help the potential employer see that the applicant's skills and experience match what the employer seeks. In the current economic climate, with the scarcity of jobs, a well-written cover letter distinguishes your application."
Career expert Heather Huhman notes that "Cover letters allow you--in narrative form--to tell the employer exactly why hiring you, instead of the numerous other candidates, is a good decision.
I agree. I'm of the school of thought that a cover letter is the best way to make a good impression on a prospective employer and a way to show that employer why you are a strong candidate for the job. What do you think? Do you need a cover letter or can you successfully connect with companies in other ways?