Submit cover letter when not required?

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Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:32 pm

I'm applying to a government job (AUSA) and a cover letter is not part of the required documents. The posting indicated that they are optional. Is it worth it to send one anyway?

My thinking is, if it's only a mediocre cover letter, it gives them an opportunity to find something about you they don't like. However, if it's a good cover letter, you distinguish yourself from the pack.

I welcome any advice, on if I should bother spending the time to prepare one.

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zot1

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby zot1 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:39 pm

A cover letter is a great way to distinguish yourself from the pack. However, it must add more than what your resume already has. Otherwise, you can risk pissing off the reviewer for having them read the same thing.

If you have a good understanding of what the agency does, I would use the cover letter to explain why you'd be a great fit for the agency. But if you don't, don't fake it. We will know.

In reviewing apps I find more typos in cover letters than any other materials. Please, make it typo-free.

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:44 pm

zot1 wrote:A cover letter is a great way to distinguish yourself from the pack. However, it must add more than what your resume already has. Otherwise, you can risk pissing off the reviewer for having them read the same thing.

If you have a good understanding of what the agency does, I would use the cover letter to explain why you'd be a great fit for the agency. But if you don't, don't fake it. We will know.

In reviewing apps I find more typos in cover letters than any other materials. Please, make it typo-free.


So, let me ask you then, assuming a cover letter is only optional, would you give less weight to an application that chose not to submit one?

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zot1

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby zot1 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 2:48 pm

Would never give less weight. However, if I have two applicants I love, and one provides no cover letter, but the other does and it's a great letter, that will likely give them a bump.

Another scenario would be two great applicants, one has no letter, but the other does and has typos or misstates the agency name or mission, you bet I'm going with the no cover letter guy.

It's a risky thing. If you have something to add, I encourage you to do it. But if you don't, you're better off not providing one.

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:31 pm

For what it's worth, I (big law third year) got two fed interviews this year without submitting cover letters. Including one at a USAO (non big city). So if it says they're not required, they truly are not required.

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:37 pm

I submitted a cover letter when not required because it gave me the chance to describe my ties to the district (often helpful for USAOs, depending where they are) and also add something about my job that isn't apparent from my resume and isn't really easy to add. Got an interview though clearly from others' experience it isn't required and I can't prove the letter made a difference. If you have info you want them to know that isn't clear from your resume, I'd include the letter, if only so you won't think later "what if I told them x??" If you don't, I wouldnt bother.

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 12, 2016 3:40 pm

This is all super helpful. Appreciate both of your insight.

My only other thinking was, seeing as I am probably going to apply to a number of AUSA openings, I might as well just make one generic AUSA letter that I can send to all. I might just hold off and get this one in before the position closes though.

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Re: Submit cover letter when not required?

Postby mjb447 » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:11 pm

Anonymous User wrote:If you have info you want them to know that isn't clear from your resume, I'd include the letter, if only so you won't think later "what if I told them x??" If you don't, I wouldnt bother.

This is the credited response for me. Like zot1 said, it's almost impossible to fake a good cover letter, but there's a lot of downside risk. If you're questioning whether you should send an optional cover letter, you probably shouldn't.



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