If you plan to search for work in 2019, how important will your cover letter be? Do jobseekers really need cover letters in the digital age when many online applications don’t require them? Further, do employers really read them? Most importantly: Are cover letters worth the effort and time it takes to write them? Can learning how to write a cover letter really help you land a great job?
Research on the subject reveals some surprising information, and all evidence points to a simple answer: yes, yes, and yes.
A cover letter should be succinct but not too short. Writing, “I would like to apply for the role of Assistant Manager. Please review my attached resume. Thank you.” is too short, and it represents a missed opportunity. For maximum impact, write at least three paragraphs and use them to show off everything you have to offer. However, you should never exceed one page of text.
Learning how to write a cover letter may take a few minutes, and actually writing one may take a few minutes longer. But this time can be considered a short-term investment with long-term returns for your career. We’ll discuss how to write a cover letter in the text below, but first, a few things to keep in mind…
According to the 2017 Job Seeker Nation Study, about 26 percent of recruiters read cover letters and consider them important in their decision to hire. Why? Your cover letter provides managers with valuable information on which to base a hiring decision, such as information about your personality, your communication skills, and background details that a resume can’t reveal. Plus, with nearly a third of recruiters calling our cover letters as important, it's silly to roll the dice by not writing one.
5 Reasons Writing a Cover Letter Matters in 2019
It’s important to learn how to write a cover letter, and it’s just as important to know why you should write one in the first place. Here are a few of the most important benefits a great letter can bring to your job search.
- It serves as an introduction. The employer isn’t hiring a list of skills; she’s hiring a human being. Your resume will need to be accompanied by a cover letter that gives her a well-rounded sense of who you are.
- Your letter demonstrates your interest. Show employers how much you really care about this specific role with this specific company by doing your research and explaining your interest in working for the company.
- Your letter provides a reader’s guide to your resume. Help your readers understand which parts of your resume are most important, memorable, and applicable to their selection process by highlighting them in your cover letter. This is your chance to pull out your most impressive achievements and shine a light on them.
- Your letter highlights your communication skills. Different strengths matter for different jobs, but almost every job in every industry requires strong communication skills. Your letter should show off your ability to write and express yourself clearly.
- Your letter can act as a tiebreaker. Chances are, several of the applicants for a role will be equally qualified on paper. Four-year degree? Check. Great attendance track record? Check. Relevant experience? Check. If the selection process comes down to two well-qualified candidates and only one of them has submitted a cover letter, guess who’s more likely to receive an interview? By the same logic, if employers receive an avalanche of resumes and can’t possibly review them all, those that are accompanied by letters are more likely to get attention.
How to Write a Cover Letter: 6 Simple Tips for Success
1. Address your cover letter to the hiring manager. Do your research and make your very best guess about who will be reviewing your application materials based on the information available to you. Check the application instructions for a specific person’s name, peruse LinkedIn, or look at the company’s website and address your letter to the hiring manager or HR director.
2. Mention your referrals up front. Do you have a contact at the company? Have you been referred for this job by a friend, family member, or personal connection? If so, mention this important information in your first paragraph.
3. Write with polish. It’s not enough to simply edit your letter for typos (though submitting a document that is free of grammar and spelling mistakes is critical to your success). The tone, organization, and general appeal of your letter will all make a strong statement about your charm and your ability to communicate. Does your cover letter sound friendly and competent? Does it sound cold and awkward? Smooth your writing style, create a positive experience for your reader, and make sure your key qualifications and accomplishments stand out instead of getting lost in the noise.
4. Keep your letter short. A cover letter should be succinct but not too short. Writing, “I would like to apply for the role of Assistant Manager. Please review my attached resume. Thank you.” is too short, and it represents a missed opportunity. For maximum impact, write at least three paragraphs and use them to show off everything you have to offer. However, you should never exceed one page of text.
According to the 2017 Job Seeker Nation Study, about 26 percent of recruiters read cover letters and consider them important in their decision to hire. Why? Your cover letter provides managers with valuable information on which to base a hiring decision, such as information about your personality, your communication skills, and background details that a resume can’t reveal.
5. Skip the fancy fonts and design elements. Format your cover letter carefully by skipping hard-to-read fonts and digital images. These won’t help you; in fact, they may hinder your job search. Images, elaborate borders, and fancy fonts can distract from your message. Keep the focus on your achievements with a clean, well-organized document.
6. Get professional help. For help writing a cover letter, consider using a professional cover letter builder, a tool that can help you create a winning document with ease. If you plan to write your own cover letter from scratch, keep these tips in mind.