Cover letters have been a job seeker’s staple for decades, but are they still necessary in the digital age? While it’s true a prospective employer can view your LinkedIn page and read your resume to learn about your skills and experience, a cover letter may actually help get you an interview. According to a 2017 study by Job Seeker Nation, nearly 26 percent of recruiters read cover letters and consider them an important part of their hiring decision.
When to Include a Cover Letter
A cover letter is always required if the job posting asks for one. Additionally, if you are applying to a job and you know the person’s name, it’s a great idea to personalize your cover letter. If someone has referred you for the job, make sure to send a cover letter, mentioning that detail. And any time you are applying for a job via an email address, rather than an online form, make sure to include a cover letter (the body of your email will suffice as a cover letter, no need to attach another).
And if you are changing careers or have employment gaps, a cover letter is the perfect way to explain this. Potential employers have no way of knowing these things by simply looking at your resume.
Who Reads Your Cover Letter?
Generally, recruiters are the first recipients of your cover letters. They may or may not read them, but in many cases, they will forward your resume and cover letter on to the hiring manager or the potential employer. In small companies, employers tend to read all cover letters, as this is a great way for them to get to know the applicants.
When a posting receives hundreds of responses, some hiring managers may reject long resumes or those without cover letters, helping them narrow down the applicant pool.
Should You Write a Cover Letter?
Less than half of all job seekers write cover letters. This means you will stand out from the crowd if you include a cover letter whenever possible. A cover letter lets hiring managers and recruiters know you are serious about the job, and it allows you to share more about yourself, humanizing you more than your resume ever could.
And again, if you are changing careers or have employment gaps on your resume, a cover letter can help you explain these things.
Cover Letter Tips
Your cover letter should be succinct, but not too short. Shoot for about least three paragraphs. Anything longer, a hiring manager may not read.
Your cover letter should show your interest in the position. Make sure to do your research and explain why you want to work for the company, and what drew you to the role. Highlight any past experiences which relate to the position. Focus on what value you can add to the company. Speak about what can you do for them, rather than what can they do for you.
A cover letter shows how well you can communicate. It will demonstrate your written skills, so make sure it is grammatically correct, clear, and concise.
So yes, a cover letter is still relevant in today’s digital age of hiring. Make sure you submit one every time you can and make sure it speaks to the position you are applying for, rather than sending out a cookie cutter letter each time. Personalize your cover letter to let the hiring manager know you have done your research.