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Do Employers Read Cover Letters?

The competitive world today makes many of us wonder, “Do employers really read cover letters?” The harsh reality is that when there is a public job advertisement, you’re most likely not the only applicant. Companies are bombarded and overwhelmed with resumes and cover letters. Unfortunately, many of them simply do not have the time to go through every single cover letter. So what is the importance of cover letters and why do some companies ask for them? Whether or not they actually read our cover letters isn’t the real issue. If you are applying a job that you are serious about, why risk your chance of not getting an interview simply because you didn’t write a cover letter or spent time to write an effective one?

In fact, many companies use cover letters as a way to filter out the candidates to find the most devoted ones who are serious about the position. I personally know a few people who actually did not apply to certain positions because the companies were asking for cover letters and they were too lazy to write them. But this does not mean that you should have a poorly written cover letter just so that you have one to send in. There’s no guarantee that your cover letter will get read but you should always assume that it does, and thus, a poorly written cover letter can actually hurt you.

There are many advantages to having an effective cover letter. If you are judged as a strong candidate based on your resume, a well-written cover letter can make the difference in helping you get the interview as opposed to other strong candidates with a poorly written cover letter.

Cover letters are also read more often when you appear to be a good match for a certain position. For example, companies may quickly look over your resume to get a general overview and if they see that you might be the person that they are looking for, that’s when they will read your cover letter. This is another reason why having a strong resume really helps. Of course, this isn’t always the case. If you apply to a journalist position, your cover letter and any writing samples you send will probably get read.

Instead of wasting time wondering if employers actually read cover letters, figure out how to get employers to read your cover letter!

4 Reasons Why Cover Letters Are Important

There are some people who aren’t aware of the significance of cover letters, thus in this article, I will offer 4 reasons why cover letters are important.

There is no second chance to make a first impression! Cover letters are documents of introduction and are often the first impression you will make on the company. To avoid making it your last, you should take advantage of this opportunity and write an effective cover letter to make a good, lasting first impression.

Some people believe that cover letters are redundant and that employers don’t actually read them. While this may sometimes be the case, due to the competitive world of recruitment, it is highly recommended to have a powerful cover letter. Although there is no way to know in advance whether an employer will read your cover letter, you have to assume that having a cover letter matters, especially because the employers who do read them usually place a great emphasis and care a lot about them. However, whether or not they actually read our cover letters should not be our real concern. If you are serious about a specific job position, why risk your chance of not getting an interview simply because you didn’t write a cover letter or spent time writing an effective one? Here are 4 other reasons why sending an effective cover letter is crucial:

1)      Clarity – A resume has its limits and can only tell an employer so much about yourself. A cover letter explains things and answers questions that resumes cannot. For example, if you had a long gap in your employment history or changed your career, having a cover letter can explain these events in a positive way. Otherwise, without a cover letter, it is up to the employers to make assumptions.

2)      Emphasis – Cover letters allow you to direct the reader to focus on what really matters. Unlike a resume, which is a summary of your entire career, a cover letter is limited to the key areas you want to highlight. For example, you can place more emphasis on certain skills and different points in your career. If you are a good writer, this is a great opportunity to show off your strong writing skills!

3)      Personal Touch – Unlike resumes, cover letters add a personal touch because they are customized and tailored to the specific position that you are applying for. With a cover letter, you can show that you have done your research about your prospective employer’s organization or industry. You can explain why you want to work for the company and why they should hire you. Not only does customizing your cover letter add a personal touch, but you also make the employers feel more important. Employers respond better when you show that took the time to understand the company’s needs and that you aren’t sending the same cover letter to every company.

4)      Getting the Interview – When there is a close match between two candidates, the cover letter may be a deciding factor. Having an effective cover letter can really make a difference in helping you get an interview as opposed to having your resume thrown away.

Now that you know 4 reasons why cover letters are important, take the submission of your cover letter seriously!

4 Types of Cover Letters

Whether you are applying for a job or requesting a meeting, knowing what the 4 types of cover letters are and when to use them is very important. Each of these four general types of cover letters has its own purpose:

1)      Application letter This is a straight forward cover letter, where you respond to a posted job advertisement by introducing yourself and the purpose of the letter. This is a very common type of cover letter and the one that many of us are used to. Many job postings require a resume and this traditional type of cover letter to be sent as part of the application.

2)      Networking letter – A networking cover letter is used when you are asking for advice on job search. You send this type of letter to people who you believe can help you find a new job or know someone who can. This is not to say that you should directly ask for a job in the cover letter itself. Often times, you may ask for an informational meeting rather than an actual interview. The intent is not to come off as strong and pressure the reader in getting you a job, but rather to state your desire to learn more and what you hope to gain from an informational meeting. Letting the recipient know that you are seeking for advice might make them more willing to help you and they can eventually help you in getting a new job. Finish the cover letter stating your intent to call and make arrangements for a brief informational meeting.

3)      Letter of interest/inquiry – Also known as a prospecting letter, this type of cover letter is sent to companies that may be hiring but they have not posted any specific job advisements. Unlike a traditional application cover letter that responds to a specific job posting, the purpose of this letter is to inquire about possible job openings at a company. To make it more effective, make sure you direct your inquiry letter to the right person! This letter should include why you are interested in working for the company and how your skills and experience can be an asset to the company. Sending letters of interest can be a great way to find a job if done effectively.

4)      Referral cover letter – A referral letter mentions that you were referred to the job by someone, such as a colleague or a friend. It is important to mention this mutual contact and how you know him/her in the first paragraph of your cover letter. Having a mutual connection is advantageous because recruiters and hiring managers are more likely to consider applicants referred by someone they know.

Customizing the 4 Types of Cover Letters

Your cover letters should be customized based on your specific purpose. Although this can be time consuming, it is important to let the companies know that you took the time and effort to show why you are a good match for the company. Companies can tell if you just send them a generic cover letter that you send to every job that you apply for. Thus, to make sure your cover letter gets read, write an effective cover letter.

Also, regardless of the type of cover letter, mention in the last line of your cover letter how you can be contacted and if they should expect you to follow up with a call. Remember to thank them for their time!

Now that you know the 4 types of cover letters, make sure you follow the appropriate format for each cover letter and include your resume for their reference.