Do Cover Letters Even Matter Anymore?

Eliud Rivera
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Before you mass delete any cover letters you have saved and laugh in maniacal joy, I regret to inform you that cover letters very much still matter. I myself was excited to hear that they may be obsolete, but sadly, cover letters are still a huge part of getting hired. The only time you should not be using a cover letter is when a job specifically asks you not to use one. Here are a few ways cover letters offer a big boost to your application.

They Show That You Put in the Time

As difficult as applying for a job can be, it is the most basic requirement for getting a position. As accomplished as you may feel from completing an application, it is the bare minimum. If you really want an employer to see that you want this job, write a cover letter. I don’t mean digging around in your Google Drive and changing a few words from that cover letter you wrote years ago. Start from scratch. Do some research on the position and the company. Write a clear and concise letter about what skills you have to fill the position. Not only will this do a little of the recruiter’s job for them, but it will also show them that you truly care about getting this position and have put the time in to prove your worth.

They Give You a Head Start on Your Interview

Cover letters can act as a great introduction. Don’t interview well? Gain the upper hand and write a cover letter. You will automatically give yourself something to talk about and can refer back to it to control the conversation. Recruiters will get a good idea of who you are from your cover letter and will ask questions based off of it. A well-constructed letter can make the recruiter more comfortable setting up an interview with you and set you apart from the competition.

They Extend Your Resume

One of the most difficult aspects of building a resume is conserving space. You may have tons of relevant experience, but you only have so much room to express it. This could leave things out that could catch a potential employer’s eye. Should you include a job that you worked at longer, or a job that pertains more to this position? You can use your cover letter to extend your resume and include the information that you could not include on your resume. You can expand on the goals you accomplished in a more concise and interesting fashion than on a resume. Tell a story of how you helped your company solve an issue. The interviewer will insert themselves right into that story and see you making THEM money. It’s that simple.

So, it turns out that cover letters still really do matter. How much they matter, depends on you. If you don’t put a lot of effort into that cover letter, it will show. Employers always want someone who has the skills to do the job, but more importantly, they want someone who is eager to fill the position. Passion is just as important as past experience. Make your future employer feel your passion through an expertly written cover letter.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Carvin C thanks for your comment. Sure it's true that some employers don't want the cover letter - don't want to take the time to read it. But, if it boiled down to two job seekers and one of them sent a cover letter while the other one didn't - the one who took the time to craft a cover letter would probably be the front runner. Unless, of course, the employer stated that he did not want a cover letter but a resume only. Personally I would take the time to write a cover letter as I feel the resume doesn't allow the space to tell it all - to tell important facts that the hiring manager needs to know about me.

  • Carvin C.
    Carvin C.

    This is false. A lot of jobs don't even expect you to write one because they are a big waste of time. I've even had managers tell me directly that Cover Letters are a joke unless you like begging for work, a resume is enough. I have gotten offered plenty of job opportunities without ever having to write a single pointless Cover Letter. So no they are not relevant. Why? Because I've seen even low pay worthless jobs demand you make one.

  • George R.
    George R.

    Good input that makes perfect sense!

  • JaDonnia B.
    JaDonnia B.

    My query involves the proper formatting of letters, and the length. For myself, writing effective cover letters is an ongoing learning process, but once again, a necessary one.

  • JaDonnia B.
    JaDonnia B.

    I agree that cover letters are still relevant to the interview and hiring process. However, this doesn't mean that it is an easy task. It demands research and then specifically tailoring each letter to the job for which you apply.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Janice thanks for your comment. Cover letters are very much a thing as are thank you letters after an interview. The federal government doesn't require them because they require extensive info just in the application - more information that non-federal job seekers will ever need to include. Cover letters aren't going away any time soon. It's a great way for a hiring manager to weed out applicants. Writing a resume is pretty standard - you have a format for it. But, writing a cover letter is personal - something that you can't find on the Internet and copy/paste - in most cases. It gives a hiring manager a window into the applicant - in the way they write; in the way they structure sentences and so on. You might be amazed to see how many cover letters come through with fragmented sentences, run-on sentences, blatant spelling errors and so on. So, yes cover letters are here to stay - at least for now.

  • JANICE W.
    JANICE W.

    Job searching today is VERY different from the days when it was required to write a cover letter and thank you. I haven't sent a cover letter in over 10 years. I am a federal contractor with steady employment from contract to contract with a six-figure income, which increases annually. We are never given contact information for our interviewer(s), so a hearty thank you after the interview must suffice. I don't understand people, who have a narrow scope of the job searching environment these days, giving irrelevant and/or bad advice to job seekers. How can you think a blanket statement about cover letters and thank you notes would fit everyone? Put a summary page on your resume -- make it easy for them to see your areas of expertise, then give them a chronological resume. I consistently get compliments on my credentials and how they are organized for easy reading.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments @Rich M. It is great that you submit a thank you note after an interview! Most job seekers do not. I remember when I was competing for a job with two other candidates. We were all pretty equal across the board. What made the difference that I got the position? The thank you note that I sent. So yes, always send a thank you. Sorry about the job. Sure do wish they would have told you why. It's tough being let go when you know you are doing a great job! Yes, cover letters are important. As long as the cover letter is about the company, not about you. Your resume tells about you. The cover letter is to tell the hiring manager who he and his company will benefit from hiring you. Most people don't realize this. They write a cover letter that is a synopsis of their resume - all about them, not about the company. Hope that helps. All the best on your job search!

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    I also want to include, a thank you note. It won't hurt if you send them one. I think this also shows that you are very interested in the position.

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    I try to include one in every application I fill out, which have been a ton lately. I got laid off in November of 2018 and have been looking for work since. I usually say the same thing, but adjust it to the position I apply for. From November until now, September 2019, I have been on eight interviews and did land a job,short as it was, two days after the interview. The job was through a temp service and the company I was working for, decided to end my assignment after eight days. They didn't say why.

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