Why You Need a Cover Letter (and What You Can do to Make Them Read It)

You’ve probably seen this phrase for over 70% of the jobs you have applied for, “Please send resume and cover letter to [employer email address].”

It’s no surprise that the job market still uses cover letters as an introduction to a resume. After all, resumes are traditionally a structured overview of your experience, while the cover letter provides a glimpse into your personality and summarizes your credentials for the job.

The cover letter ultimately is going to humanize you to the reader so you become more than a piece of paper with past experiences.

During our conversations with recruiters, many of them admit they don’t bother to read past the first line. Our question to that, of course, is why? The answers to this question may or may not surprise you. Regardless, using these suggestions has helped us write cover letters that stand out and here are some things you can do as well:

Address Your Cover Letter to the Correct Company

Yes. You’ve read that correctly. 100% of the recruiters we have spoken with on this have received a cover letter addressing the wrong company at some point in their career. In some cases, the company it has been addressed to has a similar position available or is within a similar industry. However, some recruiters have had the pleasure of opening a cover letter referencing a Janitorial Services Supervisor position for an Executive Administrative Assistant position. Yikes!

Write a Targeted Cover Letter

Just as we suggest your resume should be targeted, so should your cover letter. Your cover letter should ideally highlight you as a good fit for the company, and if you cannot prove that you are, it may not be the right company for your either. By incorporating skills you possess that are necessary for the job can intrigue the reader deeper into your resume.

Keep it Short

Ideally, your cover letter is designed to complement your resume, not replace or re-design it. Your cover letter should ideally take less than 60 seconds of your reader’s time. Any more than a minute and they may not be willing to make the investment. Some recruiters, especially for competitive and attractive companies, may have over 250 resumes to review for one position, so consider keeping everything you send short and concise.

There may be situations where the job you are applying for does not require a cover letter. In these instances, we suggest opening at least with a professional email similar to a cover letter. If nothing else, the recruiter can choose to ignore the additional file or email and move straight to your great resume!