Cover letters are often considered the most despised step in a job application process. Many job seekers don’t see the point in submitting a cover letter anymore as there is some debate about whether hiring managers or recruiters even read them. Well, according to a recent study from ResumeGO, 87% of hiring managers still read cover letters, and the majority utilize them in making hiring decisions. So, is writing cover letters worth your time? Here are a few examples of when cover letters can help put you over the edge during the hiring process.
When do hiring managers or recruiters utilize cover letters?
Some hiring managers and recruiters dismiss the value of cover letters; however, many others find them useful in making their hiring decisions. It may depend on the industry or the seniority level (i.e., a senior leadership role versus an entry-level role). Here are a few examples of when cover letters are commonly read:
- For candidates that have a strong background in another field or industry
- For candidates that are on the fence about moving forward in the process
- When a candidates’ resume raises questions
- For the candidates at the top of the hiring managers’ list
- When writing skills play a significant role in the job opening (for example, a communications or marketing professional)
There are other scenarios when hiring managers will read your cover letter, but these are the top five.
When your cover letter won’t get read
There are a few situations in which your cover letter won’t be read. It’s true; most hiring authorities will read a candidates’ resume before they even touch the cover letter. So, if you apply for a job that you are completely unqualified for, don’t be surprised if your cover letter gets skipped over. Another scenario where your cover letter will get pushed to the wayside is if your resume has poor formatting or is riddled with grammatical errors. If your resume is a hot mess or has tons of spelling errors, a hiring manager will likely move on to the next candidate.
A final reason a hiring manager will ignore your cover letter is if it isn’t tailored. A hiring professional can tell after reading your cover letter for a few seconds if you took the time to personalize it for the position. For example, when the letter isn’t addressed to the hiring manager (to whom it may concern won’t cut it) or the opening line is too generic. If you don’t spend the time to tailor it for the position, then hiring managers won’t take the time to read it.
In other words, if you are not qualified or your application materials are not up to par, then yes, your cover letter won’t get read.
So, what’s the verdict?
Yes, some hiring professionals dismiss cover letters while others only use them in certain situations. But the verdict here is they cannot hurt your application if they are thoughtfully crafted. If you are qualified for the job and your resume reads well, there is a substantial chance it will be reviewed. Your cover letter can add clarity to your candidacy and even help propel you above your competition. This will be even more important in today’s market, where there are many more job seekers out there. Therefore, writing a cover letter is worth your time; however, you must tailor it and spend time to create a document that sheds some light on your skillsets.