The Inside Scoop: Why Cover Letters are Still Important
April 9, 2020
Cover Letters

You may be asking yourself “does a cover letter really matter?” The short answer is yes. Cover letters are absolutely still relevant and important. In fact, most internship and full-time job applications will require a cover letter, a resume, and several rounds of interviews. An average cover letter that lacks value only regurgitates the content on a resume and has no clear indication of your intentions will not get read. To help you avoid this common issue, let’s walk through the answers to some of the most important questions about cover letters.

Who wants to see a cover letter?

Don’t be misled by the rumors that no one reads cover letters anymore. It’s important to know that this is a myth. The real question to think about is who is making that claim, why they are making that claim, and what their role is in the onboarding process. They may or may not be a hiring manager, recruiter, or human resources administrator, so it’s your job to understand their level of involvement and the accuracy of their sources.

If you ask a recruiter or any other person who performs the initial screening of candidates, it is probable that they truly don’t read cover letters. Their job is to narrow down the large pool of candidates by focusing solely on the content and format of your resume. Advancing past this phase, hiring managers may or may not read your cover letter, depending on whether your application is in the ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ pile. To be safe, always err on the side of caution and include a persuasive cover letter

With regards to landing in the ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ piles, we can not stress enough how crucial it is for all your application documents to be strong. If your resume lacks value and isn’t consistent with your candidacy, your cover letter is not going to save you. But once you’ve made the first cut, you have the chance to wow the hiring manager with your accomplishments and dedication. If you’re looking for help on how to beef up your resume, check out our team here

What happens if you didn’t send a cover letter, but it was required?

person touching and pointing MacBook Pro

Unfortunately, if you submitted an application for which a cover letter was required but you failed to attach the document, it is unlikely that you will be considered for the position. Your inability to submit a completed application has the potential to negatively portray to the hiring managers and recruiters that you are unable to complete a basic task, let alone complete the tasks and projects that would be assigned to you if you were to be hired. Fortunately, you may not be the only applicant making this mistake. Now that you are more informed on the importance of cover letters, perhaps the applicant pool will be lessened as others make this crucial, but not uncommon, error. While it won’t work out for them, at least your odds may be a bit better. 

Avoid having your application being dismissed because you didn’t take the time to double and triple-check that it was complete before you submitted it. Put in the extra effort it takes to submit a complete and compelling application. 

What do hiring managers want to see in cover letters?

Hiring managers want to see details about your interest in the cause area and the organization itself. This is an area where you can show the recruiters that you’ve taken the time to research the company culture and job description. It’ll be a straight shot into an interview if you can grasp and relay the value they’re looking for. You can do this by conveying those of your accomplishments and experiences that relate directly to the experience the position requires and leaving out irrelevant topics. Tell a story outside of the one your resume tells. A cover letter at its heart should be a supplement to your resume, not a copy. 

Remember, grammar and spelling can make or break your application. An easy mistake, whether it’s an incomplete sentence, a typo, or misspelling of a name, can eliminate you from the pool. Double and triple-check to make sure your wording is perfect and error-free, on your resume, your cover letter, and throughout your application.

What else do hiring managers want to tell you?

woman in teal t-shirt sitting beside woman in suit jacket

Aside from checking your cover letter for any grammatical mistakes, pay careful attention to the spelling of the organization and the way the organization presents its name. When addressing your cover letter, use the company’s brand in the address or header. Simple additions like this show the extra effort you put in, and in the end, make you stand out. 

After you’ve finalized your application material, find a trusted source that you personally know is skilled at writing and have them review your material. Whether it’s a friend, local library, or a paid service, put in the effort to have someone double-check your work and make it perfect. Competition is fierce nowadays, so make sure you give yourself every fighting chance you can get. So in short, always include a cover letter!



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By Brandon Mitchell

Brandon Mitchell is the Founder and Chief Resume Writer at Brandon enjoys helping clients from all walks of life and is a sought out career expert. Brandon has been featured in Earn Your Leisure, The Squeeze, and Blapitalist. Follow Brandon on Linkedin

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