Over the last few months, I have conducted an informal survey of recruiters’ opinions on cover letters. The results were pretty evenly split, with half the group reporting that they generally do read cover letters and the rest sharing that they hated them and never read them!
Of the recruiters who do read cover letters, nearly half said that they use the cover letter as a measure of how eager the applicant is to work for the company. A generic cover letter that appears to be one that is sent out to every job opening will be quickly dismissed– along with your hopes for an interview.
Of course typos, grammatical errors and overall sloppiness can quickly get you tossed into the “No” pile, but several recruiters shared with me that they have rejected an applicant after reading a really boring cover letter without even reading the resume. Don’t let this happen to you. Cover letters do not need to be boring.
Your cover letter is the first writing sample your potential next employer will see. Use it as an opportunity to shine! Let them know you have done homework on their company and that you are eager to join the team by including some company-specific information. Mention how you can contribute to a recent product release, merger or even a challenge the company is currently facing. A few recruiters I surveyed reported that an interesting cover letter has persuaded them to bring an applicant in for an interview even if their resume was not one of the strongest received.
Some companies use the lack of a cover letter as criteria to reduce the applicant pool. “Great! There is one less resume I have to read.” If they are expecting a cover letter and do not get one, you may appear to be lazy. Don’t eliminate yourself from the running by looking like a person who cuts corners or takes the easy way out. Impress them with an interesting cover letter that will make them want to bring you in for an interview.
- You do not know the preferences of your recipient. Err on the side of caution and send a cover letter with every resume.
- Take a few minutes to review the company’s website and customize each cover letter to the position.
- Not sure how to write a strong cover letter? Here are some tips.