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11 Entrepreneurs Weigh in on the Cover Letter vs. Résumé Debate

Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber

To cover letter or not to cover letter? That seems to be a rather burning question for job applicants these days. Do hiring managers actually read them? And how much weight do they hold compared to résumés?

To get a better idea, we asked 12 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) which holds more precedence for them: a cover letter or a résumé. You can see their answers below.

1. Résumé

I prefer reviewing a résumé to a cover letter because it helps me more quickly identify a candidate's background, skill set and experience level. Moreover, by keeping the résumé to one page, it forces the candidate to be concise, make sure grammar and punctuation are correct, and keep it well-structured. –Bobby GrajewskiEdison Nation Medical

2. Cover Letter

Résumés are too standard. Everyone has a résumé, but not everyone can write a cover letter. Cover letters are more personal. Cover letters improve your chances of getting an interview and the job down the road. – Alexis LevineSavvy Media

3. Résumé for Curating, Cover Letter for Hiring

I find a résumé to be more important for curating the best talent to then decide if their cover letter is worth reading. Résumés are made to be skimmed, and if it meets or exceeds my expectations, then I will take the time to read the cover letter. The reason the cover letter is so important is people are basically handed a blank canvas, providing a better opportunity to gauge talent. – Adam StillmanSparkReel

Related Article: Master the Art of Hiring with These 5 Tips

4. Covers Letters Answer 'Why?', Résumés Answer 'How?'

Cover letters differentiate candidates because they allow candidates to answer why they are uniquely qualified for a position. Finalists for any position are likely to have multiple candidates with similar skills. However, the cover letter is the perfect opportunity for a candidate to demonstrate his or her passions, personality and cultural fit with an organization. – Kristopher

5. Cover Letter

I feel that people often leave off sending a cover letter. My company requests a cover letter with résumés or job applications. I think this is crucial in seeing how a person pays attention to detail and follows directions in the initial stages. – Phil LaboonEyeflow Internet Marketing

6. Neither

When hiring, I put a simple sentence in job descriptions: "Send anything you believe will make you stand out." I leave this intentionally ambiguous because I want to see how candidates will interpret the request, but overall, it leads to much more personal, dynamic applications. Résumés and cover letters don't always tell the true story. In today's market, you have to be bold and stand out. – Matt CheuvrontProof Branding

7. Résumé is a Requirement, Cover Letter is Optional

A résumé provides critical details about a candidate's past that allow a hiring manager to match it with the company's needs. A cover letter is nice, but interview requests are rarely made without a résumé in hand. – Mark

Related Article: 10 Interview Questions to Save You From Hiring a Fake

8. Cover Letter

A candidate has to have a good résumé for me to consider bringing them in, it's a requirement. But while many people have great résumés, sadly much fewer write great cover letters. If a candidate writes a great cover letter, I'll bring them in for an interview. On average, we receive more than 200 applications for a position. I'll usually interview about 20 -- you can do the math from there. – Carlo CiscoSELECT

9. Whichever Helps You Stand Out the Most

If I were applying for a job today, I would make a Venn diagram with my specialties on one side, the company's needs on the other, and how the two align to create something awesome in the middle. Yes, some would throw it away, but others would stop flipping through the stack long enough to stop and peek. They’d be more likely to remember it. And who knows, my ideas might warrant an interview. – Ryan StephensRyan Stephens Marketing

10. Cover Letter

While both are important, cover letter takes precedence. Why? It’s the first thing I see when I’m hiring. So if you aren’t grabbing my attention there, then I’m not going to get to your résumé. Second, you can summarize and provide brief context for your work experience that isn’t really available in the résumé format, as well as provide me with a good sense of your personality. For me, a résumé is ultimately a job eliminator, not a job “getter.” I see the résumé as the thing I will use to eliminate you from the pool of applicants, while the cover letter actually serves to set you apart. I’ll overlook some résumés that aren’t as good as others for a better cover letter that stands out. – Adam

11. Cover Letter

The cover letter is more important. This provides insight into a candidate's story and why they are interested in working at your firm. It is crucial that candidates spend time explaining the skills they've acquired and how they expect to contribute to the company. – Randy RayessVenturePact

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.

Image Credit: Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
Scott Gerber
Scott Gerber Member
Scott Gerber is the founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Gerber is also a serial entrepreneur, regular TV commentator and author of the book Never Get a “Real” Job.