Are cover letters necessary in 2022?
The utility of the cover letter will vary between jobs and between job seekers in Austin. While somewhat old fashioned, cover letters are a nice way of introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the job.
We are often told that recruiters spend 6-10 seconds per resume in the initial evaluation. So then what’s the point of a cover letter and does it still get read?
For our part at Peak Performers Staffing Agency, cover letters are nice to have though are not a requirement for our process. Recruiters usually read cover letters if they’re included, though we look at a resume first. Also, on occasion we may advise you to compose a cover letter to our clients prior to a submission so we can help you better market your talent.
When to use a cover letter
Cover letters are ideal if you’re not the obvious choice candidate.
The first reason you might want to include a cover letter is if you’re not the first and most obvious choice for a candidate. If you’re doing a career shift or you’ve been out of work for a while, a cover letter gives you a chance to tell your story and showcase your unique value as well as overcome their concerns about hiring you.
Cover letters are ideal if you’re in network.
Similarly, a cover letter helps hiring managers connect the sheet of paper to the human. If you have the competitive advantage of network connection (which is a significant competitive advantage), a cover letter is a great way to highlight those connections to make sure you don’t lose that edge.
Cover letters help you expand on your resume.
If you’re really struggling to fit all your experience onto your resume or struggling to showcase your unique skills in the resume format, a cover letter lets you work outside this box.
Sometimes cover letters are expected.
I’ve known hiring managers who will not consider hire someone unless they send a thank you note after an interview. Similarly, some hiring managers and some industries expect you to spend time wooing them. Academia and positions where the candidate pool is smaller and more specialized often expect a cover letter to be considered.
Not many people do write cover letters…so you may want to.
You may want to do use a cover letter just because many people don’t. When you’re struggling to stand out from the crowd, these gestures can make you unique enough to get noticed.
Cover Letter Tips
Don’t rely on the cover letter to tell your story.
A cover letter may or may not get read. So make sure that it’s supplemental to your resume and a “nice, personalized touch” that will help you stand out between multiple qualified candidates. In addition to a cover letter, I recommend putting in a brief statement at the top of your resume about what kind of role you’re seeking and a summary of your qualifications.
Cover letters can be helpful if you’re not the obvious choice candidate.
If you are attempting to switch careers or get back into the job market after an employment gap, cover letters can help you overcome objections or add more context and explanation to your candidacy.
Make sure to customize your cover letter.
Too often, when I do see cover letters, they are very obviously copy-pasted from a template. Job seekers won’t bother to customize the thing that’s supposed to be a personal touch! If you’re using “Dear Sir or Madam,” you probably haven’t done enough networking and research into the organization for the cover letter to be truly impactful.
Emphasize your network connection/referral.
As a follow up to the previous point, if you have a personal connection into an organization, a cover letter is a great way take advantage of this network. You can name drop your connection, and it increases the odds that your application will get seen and will spark a conversation about you.
Watch for typos on your cover letter.
You want a cover letter to be the best representation of yourself. Since it’s a bit of a formal document anyway, if you can’t make it typo-free and grammatically sound, I’d skip it as it may jeopardize your candidacy. Attention to detail is important.
Cover letters are a great follow up.
What I also see is a cover letter used as a follow up after you apply. I think it can have a good value used this way!
Cover Letter Example
It’s still good to have a template even if you don’t think you’ll need to use a cover letter often. All job seekers should have a cover letter template they can customize and send at a moment’s notice. Some employers still require it as part of the application process. Indeed has an amazing library of sample cover letters. You can also check out this previous article on Peak’s site with tips for writing a good cover letter.