Job seekers often ask themselves, are cover letters that important to write? Do you have to write a cover letter? According to the experts, the answer is always yes.
For each recruiter or employer who doesn't read your cover, there is another who will, so it's a good idea to take advantage of every opportunity to make your application outshine others.
Why cover letters are important
1. Cover letters can give your application a boost
According to Forbes, some hiring managers won't read your cover letter, but those who do read it feel it still carries a lot of weight in the application process. Since it is impossible to know which type of individual will read your application, writing a cover letter is critical to covering all of your bases.
Unlike large corporations with hundreds of employees that prefer applications through their websites, most small- and medium-sized businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) tend to agree that a cover is still imperative. Often, hiring managers will use cover letters as a way of distinguishing between candidates with similar qualifications.
In other words, if you write a great cover letter and another candidate with a similar background skips that step, you have a leg up in the hiring process.
2. Cover letters can help demonstrate your value
Your cover forces you to focus on the main highlights of your experience. Pick several items from your past that match perfectly with the requirement outlined in the job description and write about these in further detail. This makes it easier for the recruiter to see how well you would fit into the position.
Use a cover letter to detail items that your resume can't. Explain a gap in employment, explain why you left a previous position, and even add why you are looking for a new job now. Make the reader focus on items that you feel need additional attention. Using bullet points will both draw attention to these highlighted items and improve readability.
Some hiring managers won't read your cover letter, but those who do read it feel it still carries a lot of weight in the application process. Since it is impossible to know which individual your application will be seen by, writing a cover letter is critical to covering all of your bases.
3. Cover letters allow you to express enthusiasm
A resume is a data sheet of facts, and it reads like one. Cover letters let you tailor a hand-written letter to address the individual reader. You can directly address what you know about the organization or the industry. You can also explain why you want to work at the company and what you feel you could contribute.
Express enthusiasm for the job. Harness some of your excitement for wanting the job and jot it down on paper. For example, if you are applying for a management position with a large firm, you could write:
"Since the inception of XYZ Company, I've been interested in the culture of the company and its teams. Managing people is not only my career goal, it's my passion, which is why I hope you'll consider me as an asset for this position."
Finally, do your homework and don't be afraid to flatter the manager or the company on a recent achievement.
"I'm extremely impressed with how Hewlett Package makes environmental issues a priority and works to create products that are environmentally sound. I would love to have the opportunity to be a part of your green initiative."
4. Cover letters can highlight elements of your resume
According to the Society of Human Resources Management, during the initial screening process of a job application, it takes less than five minutes for a recruiter or manager to determine if an applicant will make it through to the next step in the selection process. In comparison, cover letters add several items to your application that a resume can't. When compared to a resume, a cover letter:
- Introduces you to the organization
- Demonstrates your interest in the company
- Explains how your work experience meets the job requirements
- Draws increased attention to your resume
- Motivates the reader to interview you
- Invites future contact
5. Cover letters show a genuine interest in the role
Not only do good cover letters showcase your writing abilities and highlight your communication skills, writing a great cover letter can showcase other qualities recruiters like to see.
Taking the time to research a position and its management and recruiters enough to call them by name shows you are serious about the opportunity. Submitting an application or a resume on its own may be interpreted as laziness on your part by a hiring manager and doing so can be reason enough for them to pass you by.
Strong cover letters with a closing statement invite a follow-up response. They let you take control of the next step rather than leaving it in the employers' hands. Instead of playing the waiting game, you can move on with the interview process by calling to schedule a meeting. As you would with your resume, always be sure to proof your cover letter for grammar and spelling mistakes and read it out loud for proper flow.