Though they may seem outdated and more of a pain than other parts of the job hunt, cover letters are a crucial component of job applications. Recruiters attest that having applicants send in cover letters can keep them from submitting resumes blindly and without purpose. But how can applicants really impress a recruiter with a cover letter? Do recruiters even read them?
Almost every recruiter looks for a cover letter with an application. Even if the recruiter only scans the document, the fact that one was included shows that the applicant put a lot of time and effort into applying for the position. Some recruiters may have specific requirements for a cover letter, such as deeper explanations of past work experience or specific salary expectations. Including these things if the recruiter requests it is ideal, but including salary expectations regardless can help recruiters when selecting applicants for interviews.
Recruiters also use cover letters to determine how and how well an applicant communicates information and details. When writing a cover letter, strive for clear communication that doesn’t leave room for secondary interpretations. Applicants may want to consider writing practice letters and giving them to friends to see how clear and concise their writing style is. Recruiters want to see clear writing that explains details in a brief and thorough style.
A recruiter looks for any experience that isn’t included in the resume, like soft skills or extremely pertinent experience. For example, a position that isn’t relevant in and of itself could have provided relevant skills to the applicant. Including that experience in a cover letter can impress recruiters and is better than leaving it out completely. A cover letter can also be a more efficient way to deliver knowledge and soft skills that don’t necessarily have a place on the resume.
Recruiters may refer to cover letters in order to determine availability and details like location. The opening paragraph is a great place to state the applicant’s current location, willingness to relocate, when he is available to start and any salary expectations as mentioned above.
Most importantly, recruiters are looking at cover letters to determine that the applicant understands what kind of person or professional the position or company needs. Recruiters are going to look for mentions of how a person will excel in a position, skills he has that make him perfect for the job or previous experience that really stands out as highly relevant and valuable.
Cover letters can be a pain to write, and constantly changing and rewriting them can be tough during the job hunt. However, including one shows recruiters that the applicant is truly interested in pursuing the position and cares about the needs of the company.