Do you really need a cover letter? Do hiring managers still read them? Or have you wasted valuable time creating a great document, only to have it tossed aside?
There has been much research done on the value of submitting a cover letter with your resume. Some research suggests that writing a cover letter is a waste of time as most hiring managers do not read them. There is a second opinion that feels you must always submit a well written, meaningful cover letter as it is a critical piece of the application process. So which answer is correct?
Both answers are correct. Yes, it is true that some (or maybe even most) hiring managers/recruiters do not read your cover letter, but the fact still remains that some still do read them. And if even one hiring manager reads your cover letter, maybe it will be what distinguishes you from other candidates. And even if only one reads the letter, isn’t it worth taking the time to write it? I believe it is.
We first need to understand why the cover letter is not always being read.
- Hiring managers simply do not have the time to read every cover letter, and resume for that matter, from top to bottom. They potentially receive dozens, or even hundreds of applications, and can’t possibly be expected to read every one word for word.
- Often times what the hiring manager was reading was “Please accept my resume in application of your job …” , with no other relevant information. So why would they bother to read a letter that doesn’t really say anything?
So, what are hiring managers really looking for in the cover letter?
- They want to know that you have researched their organization and that you can demonstrate how you will be a good fit.
- They want to see that you can tie your skills and experience to their specific requirements.
- They want to see measurable accomplishments that are relevant to the job for which you are applying.
- They want to be able to scan the letter to quickly gather the relevant information.
So, if the hiring manager reads your cover letter, make sure that it is a professional, error free document, that is succinct, concise, and easy to read.
As I say over and over again, do your homework. Research the company, carefully review the job advertisement, and make sure that you target your cover letter (and your resume) to the job and the company for which you are applying. Highlight in your cover letter how you will be an asset to their organization.
If you’re not sure how to tie the information from your research and the job advertisement to your cover letter, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a Certified Professional Career Coach. Taking the extra time and effort now will ensure that you submit a cover letter that is worth reading.
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