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How Important Are Cover Letters?

Everyone knows the importance of a good-quality resume. It’s the most important document of all for any job-seeker – the one piece of paper that can make the difference and land you your dream job. That’s why so many people turn to the pros – like local cover letter and resume services in Colorado – to help strengthen their resumes and fortify their chances of gaining employment.

pencil with a man explaining How Important Cover Letters are with a cover letter image

But resumes aren’t the only documents used when applying for jobs. Cover letters are part of the equation, too – but are they really that important these days? Well, with 58% of workers calling cover letters “unnecessary,” and many skipping them altogether in their applications, you might wonder if it’s actually worth writing them. Keep reading to find out.

Arguments in Favor of Cover Letters

Let’s start by making a case in favor of cover letters, exploring the value they bring.

An Informative Complement to a Resume

Cover letters lack the influence and importance of resumes. That much is clear. They don’t provide the same amount of data about a person. Nor are they as quick and straightforward for recruiters and hiring managers to scan through.

But that doesn’t make them worthless. Indeed, cover letters can do more than you might imagine. They tell a candidate’s story in a way that a resume can’t, explaining gaps in their career, detailing their motivations, and providing valuable pieces of additional info.

Many Employers Still Request Them

Attitudes may be shifting in regard to cover letters, especially among job-seekers, but lots of employers still demand to see them. In fact, if you look at a typical job board, you’ll see that many job descriptions clearly state all applicants should supply cover letters alongside their resumes.

You can’t just ignore that part of the description and hope that your application will be accepted anyway. If an employer asks for a cover letter, they’ll typically reject any application that comes without one.

Important for ATS Reasons

Arguably the biggest argument to continue writing cover letters is how important they are for ATS – Applicant Tracking Systems. ATS technology is becoming increasingly widespread, with many companies using it to streamline their recruitment.

ATS programs scan cover letters and look for certain keywords, which could be anything from “teamwork” to “machine learning.” Those scans help to narrow down the field of applicants, weeding out any that don’t seem suitable. If your letter is bland or generic – or you don’t submit one at all – you may miss out on interview opportunities.

image with advice and tips of what to include in a cover letter

A Demonstration of Dedication

If there’s one thing that recruiters and hiring managers love to see in candidates, it’s dedication. They’ll almost always appreciate applicants who put in that extra bit of effort in their applications. It shows they’re not just going through the motions and that they actually have interest and passion for that particular role.

Yes, it demands time and effort on your part to write a good letter. But, often, recruiters will be glad to see you’ve put in that effort. It could elevate your application above all the others, once more boosting your chances of landing an interview.

Help Recruiters Separate and Choose Ideal Candidates

Imagine you’re a recruiter. You’ve got a dozen resumes on your desk. They’re almost all the same in terms of skills and experience, making it incredibly difficult to pick one over the rest. Of course, you could interview each applicant one by one, but that would take time. So, what do you do?

This is where cover letters come in. If some of the candidates have included cover letters, recruiters can read those letters to learn more about them. They can gain valuable info and insight to inform their next steps. If there are two candidates with identical resumes, but one has written a great cover letter on top, he or she will be much more likely to get a positive response.

Arguments Against Cover Letters

Clearly, there are plenty of benefits to including cover letters with your job applications. But there are also arguments to be made for skipping the cover letter and focusing all your energy on your resume or other aspects of your job search.

Many of Them Are Barely (or Never) Read by Real People

Studies show that over half of hiring managers don’t read cover letters at all. Many others also admit to only briefly scanning through cover letters if they get the time. As explained earlier, many modern companies simply feed these letters through ATS systems that scan for keywords and phrases.

Given that fact, many job-seekers understandably lack motivation for writing cover letters. They feel that they shouldn’t have to put so much time and effort into a document that has such a high chance of never being read.

a pin board with what things to include on a cover letter with the words "Cover letter, Objective, Interest, Offer, Management, Vision".

They Demand Time and Effort to Write

Building on the previous point, it’s also worth acknowledging that writing a good cover letter requires a certain investment of time and effort. This isn’t the kind of document you can simply churn out in a few minutes.

Instead, you must work at it. You must tailor each cover letter to suit the job you’re applying for, research the company, review the job description, and so on. It’s not easy, and some people even call on professional cover letter writing services to help them.

Summing Up: Cover Letters Still Matter

Overall, job-seekers must acknowledge and accept that the role of the cover letter has changed. Many letters won’t be read by real people, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you optimize your cover letters accordingly and include the right keywords, they can help you pass those all-important ATS scans and progress to the next part of the hiring process.

Plus, plenty of employers still take time to read cover letters and use them to make hiring decisions. Indeed, with more jobseekers skipping cover letters nowadays, those who take the time to write one may instantly appear more dedicated and worth interviewing. So, while they may take time and effort to prepare, cover letters are still worth writing in most instances.

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