Are Cover Letters a Waste of Time?

Are cover letters a waste of time?

Going the extra mile is never a waste of time! About 83% of hiring decision-makers say cover letters are important even if not required. Yes, you read it right 😱 – more than 80% of hiring pros still consider cover letters relevant. 

That said, let’s dig deeper into the world of cover letters. Here are some thoughts on when, why, and how to use cover letters appropriately.

 

Do employers and recruiters read cover letters?

 

In the dynamic world of job applications, the question of whether to include a cover letter remains a hot topic of debate. While some recruiters admit to never reading them, others emphasize their importance in providing additional information after reviewing a resume. 

Regardless of these varying opinions, there are two scenarios where a cover letter is essential. If you have a gap in your resume or your experience doesn’t precisely match the job requirements – a well-crafted cover letter can bridge these gaps and demonstrate how your unique skills and experiences make you the perfect candidate.

We’ve included a short video of CareerBeacon’s Ryan Porter giving his expert opinion on where cover letters stand in 2023. 


Why is a cover letter important?

We’ve established that cover letters are important, but the real question is: why are they still relevant? These are some of the main rationales:

 

1. They show you care for this position.

Applying for a job nowadays has never been easier. You’ve probably noticed that you can send dozens of applications in no time through a couple of clicks and simple online forms. 

Employers have also noticed this trend, and trust us – they are always asking themselves: did this candidate apply without genuinely caring about the position? 

When employers see your cover letter, that immediately shows them you care! It is another way of saying: “👋Hey, I’m here, and I want the job. Therefore, I took the time to tell you a bit more about the value I can add to the company.” Heads up! This also means you want to be mindful of what you write in your cover letter – more on that later on. 

 

2. Tell employers why you are just the right fit.

Reading resumes can sometimes be boring and repetitive! A cover letter is a perfect tool for telling employers more about who you are and what you do. This is the chance to talk about your skills, passions and goals. If there’s anything that your resume is not saying, now is your opportunity to put it out there. 

 

These are some suggested questions you could answer throughout your cover letter:
  • Can you solve a problem the company is having?
  • Do you have any success stories or case studies from your previous experience that they may want to hear?
  • Are you excited about something they’re doing?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Why should they hire you?

     

Cover letters are also helpful if you don’t meet all the job requirements. You can highlight that you don’t have a particular skill or qualification but are willing to learn over time. 

 


3. Show off your skills.

A cover letter is a space to showcase different skills or talents that your resume may not highlight. For example, on a resume, it’s easy to say “self-motivated,” “task-oriented,” and other similar qualities through short bullet points. 

On the other hand, in a cover letter you can tell the story of when you implemented that skill in real-time: *i.e. noticing a dip in sales around the holidays that sparked your idea for a winter-themed campaign in marketing.* 

This is a space to expand upon what makes you unique or different and how the employer can use your talents intentionally. Also, a well-written cover letter displays communication skills and attention to detail!

Tips for writing a good cover letter.

Writing a cover letter can feel daunting, but here are some tips and tricks for writing an effective cover letter that may make the process much more straightforward: 

1. Research the role.

When preparing a cover letter, always do some research about the role and the organization itself. It helps you tailor the cover letter and resume to that specific role. 

This can help you highlight specific skills that may be more relevant for the position. Plus, take a peek at the company culture and see how you may be able to add value there— aligning your skills to the values and objectives of the organization.

2. Make sure it’s concise.

Simple is best for a cover letter. Consider that cover letters are often only one page, so you need to be brief. Keeping the letter to one page can be good for two reasons:

  1. The hiring manager can scan it, getting the necessary information easily. 
  2. It makes you understand the difference between non-important and high-value information.

Remember to always add the most relevant information only according to the role and the company you’re applying for! The research you did earlier will naturally tell you what you should add. Don’t be afraid to follow your intuition there.

3. Address it properly.

Addressing the hiring manager can be a great way to set you apart from the other candidates applying for a position. It shows that you have taken the time to research the company and read the job description carefully. 

This may also make the cover letter feel more personal. All people enjoy a touch of empathy — making the letter more relatable. This can increase the likelihood of the letter being read.

If you don’t happen to know the name of the recruiter that will read your application, some of the following ideas could work as well:

  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Dear [COMPANY NAME] Hiring Team,
  • Dear Sir or Madam,
  • Dear [COMPANY NAME],

⚠️ Always avoid addressing your cover letter with broad phrases like “To Whom It May Concern” ⚠️ This could suggest the hiring manager that you simply attached a generic cover letter that you use for every single application.


4. Proofread and edit.

Reading your cover letter twice may sound boring and unnecessary. Yet, you cannot skip this step. It’s crucial that you read through your cover letter closely before submission. This will decrease the number of spelling or grammatical errors. 

Those mistakes can negatively affect your chances of getting the job. Having errors in a cover letter shows the hiring manager you’re not attentive to detail. It can also make recruiters believe your communication and writing skills are not up-to-par.

Feel free to have a friend, colleague, or family member read the cover letter before submitting it. There are just some of those mistakes that can potentially escape your thorough eye!

 

Cover letters. Should I bother?   

So, if you are questioning whether or not to write a cover letter, just do it! Write it!

A cover letter sets you apart, increasing the chances of getting an interview or making it through the hiring process. There are plenty of jobseekers out there, and cover letters are a great tool to showcase care and attention to detail. 

We know…the whole process sounds tedious and time-consuming! Nevertheless, if landing a job is crucial, you should do everything possible to get it. Otherwise, the hiring manager will just move on to the next candidate. 

PS: Try to have fun while writing cover letters! Enjoy the research, and practice your writing and your critical thinking skills. If the job you’re applying for allows it, get creative. Explore sending a short video instead of a cover letter, for instance. 

Remember that 3 out of 4 employers will read your masterpiece. So take the chance, spend the time, and
write that cover letter!

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