Are cover letters actually necessary when applying for a job? We dive into this often-debated topic, ready to address your cover letter questions.
The importance of cover letters has remained a consistent topic since I started as a recruiter 18 years ago. Common questions about cover letters include: Do people even read them? Can they help me get an interview? Should I bother to take the time to write one?
Cover letters provide many benefits for job seekers. Here’s why I suggest taking the extra ten to fifteen minutes to write and customize a cover letter:
- Adds weight to your profile. If a job board or company gives you the option to include multiple documents with your application, your resume can rank higher or be prioritized if you upload materials like a cover letter (or your LinkedIn recommendations!).
- Helps you with a professional elevator pitch. “Tell me about yourself” is one of the most popular introductory questions in any interview or professional conversation. If you’ve taken the time to customize your cover letter for the role and company you’re applying for, you’ve already practiced your answer to that question!
- Makes you stand out from the crowd due to your interest and initiative. A job posting might receive hundreds of applicants, so anything you can do to show you’re really interested in the role can give you an advantage!
- Strengthens brand and qualifications. Hiring managers or recruiters will often read, or at least skim, cover letters. In those cases, you have an opportunity to shape their impression of you, so make the most of it by including key details of your background and ways you can contribute and add value to the role.
- Solidifies how serious you are about the job. Maybe you don’t have as much experience as other candidates, but by taking the time to research the company and write a cover letter, you show hiring managers how serious you are about the opportunity. Bonus points if you research the company well enough to include highlighted business goals with details of how you can assist with accomplishing those goals.
A researched and well-written cover letter can help you stand out in a sea of applicants.
So, what’s the verdict? Is it worth your time to write a cover letter? The answer is a resounding yes!
Taking the time to write a cover letter could help improve your chances of getting your resume and application seen.
For additional support, check out a few best practices for a great cover letter.
Cover Letter Tips and Tricks
- Take the time to customize your cover letter for each specific position and company. The content should offer insight into who you are, relevant experience, why you’re excited about the role, a few selling points, and some of your personality traits.
- Use AI-powered tools like Copy.ai or ChatGPT to speed up the creation process. These copywriting solutions can also help you refine that coveted professional elevator pitch!
- Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes by asking yourself the following questions: Why might I not get selected for an interview? Am I missing essential qualifications? Do I have an employment gap? Mitigate any potential concerns they might have. For example, if you’re missing a skill, explain your action plan to increase your knowledge in that area.
- Don’t be afraid to use bullet points to highlight your relevant experience.
- Read the cover letter out loud before submitting it. While it may sound silly, this makes it easier to catch grammatical issues or other errors versus just skimming it in your head.
- Be as concise as possible while providing the reviewer a picture of who you are and why you’re the right fit for the position. We recommend a half-page cover letter—there’s no need to write a novel.
- Conclude the cover letter with a call to action. Facilitate a reply to your application by suggesting the next steps, such as an interview request. Be sure to include updated contact information.
Contributing Author: Erica Woods, Director of Consultant Programs & Philanthropy