With that in mind, it’s tempting to think that since a recruiter won’t read a cover letter, you shouldn’t provide one. Job applications and resumes are enough work in and of themselves, why would you add one more task to your list?
Still, if given the option, I write a cover letter (and I think you should, too). As I sit down to write something a recruiter may or may not read, I remember the benefits of cover letters and the process of writing them.
1. Writing a cover letter helps me to think about which places in my resume make me a good candidate for a position.
It forces me to reflect on my experiences, and helps me to connect them with the company’s needs. In other words, a cover letter lets me put together a narrative about my experience, an argument about why they should interview me.
2. When I write a cover letter, I see what I’m lacking or what I’ve missed.
When I review a job posting, I pull out all the keywords for the position. I make sure my resume is aligned with the needs presented in the job posting. My cover letter serves as a summary of how my resume fulfills the company’s needs. When I notice something is missing from my cover letter, I can identify where I’m lacking a skill or experience required for the position (or where I’ve missed something to include in my resume).
Writing a targeted cover letter rather than a form letter for a job can tell you if you’re enthusiastic about a position (or not). Can you easily pick out the parts of the job you want to talk about, that you want to do? If you can’t identify aspects of the job that inspire or motivate you for a cover letter, there’s a good chance you aren’t that into the job.
4. Some recruiters dismiss application packages without a cover letter.
I’ve talked to recruiters who include a cover letter requirement in their job postings. Whether they read the cover letter or not, they may immediately dismiss applicants that don’t follow instructions.
5. Some recruiters do still read cover letters because they value the important information it includes.
If you’re applying to a small company, there’s a good chance someone will read your cover letter—so don’t assume it will automatically be ignored. Make your cover letter count.
I may be old-fashioned, but I think cover letters are an important part of the application packet. Employers look to them as a sign that applicants can follow instructions, and a passionate, compelling cover letter can signal that you’re worthy of an interview. Most of all, in the rush of the job application process, composing a good cover letter is my reminder to slow down, to make sure that I’m pursuing a job that I want and that I’m proving my worth to a potential employer.
Good luck in your job search!