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Do cover letters still matter? Do recruiters and hiring managers read them? The answer seems to be “Yes.” 74% of recruiters claim that they read them.
ResumeLab surveyed 200 recruiters, HR specialists, and hiring managers to find out what they think about cover letters. The results are fascinating!
83% claimed that a great cover letter could secure you an interview even if your resume isn’t good enough.
77% of recruiters will give preference to candidates who do send a cover letter.
72% of recruiters still expect cover letters even if the job ad states they’re optional.
Surprisingly, only 38% of candidates submit a cover letter when it is required.
Guess what the respondents said is the most crucial part of your cover letter?
“Explaining the motivation to join the company.”
You will already stand out from the competition and receive preferred consideration if you take the time to write a cover letter. So, of course, you would write one, correct?
The goal of your cover letter
I’ve said this about resumes before, and I’ll say it about cover letters now. A cover letter will not get you the job.
The goal of your cover letter and resume is to be intriguing enough that a recruiter or hiring manager wants to talk to you. You still need to sell yourself in the interviews and close the deal.
The cover letter is not the place to talk about what you want. It also shouldn’t be generic or replicate what is in your resume.
Focus on what the company wants and needs. The job description contains the clues that tell you what they want to hear.
You should connect the dots between who you are and what the company needs in this role. Emphasize the key talents, skills, knowledge, experience, and achievements that make it clear that you are the perfect candidate for the hiring manager.
Critical components of a cover letter
Heading with all of your contact information.
The salutation (e.g., “Dear Mr. Nguyen,”). Try to find the name of the recruiter or hiring manager.
An attention-grabbing opening paragraph (i.e., The Hook). What makes you unique and valuable?
Explain why you are motivated to join their company. What do you know about them that excites you about the opportunity?
Why you are the right candidate for the role and how you will benefit the company. A brief summary of your unique value, achievements, and capabilities that map to what they need.
Wrap up with a call to action (e.g., “Can we set up a call this week to discuss your expectations for the role?”).
Finish with a formal closing to thank the reader and repeat your contact information for quick access (e.g., phone number, email).
Cover letter mistakes
The biggest mistake that people make is trying to write a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Yes, it takes time to customize your cover letter so that it maps directly to the company and its open position.
But that’s precisely the point of a cover letter. It’s your chance to sell yourself and explain the unique aspects of your background that make you the perfect candidate for this specific job.
Other common mistakes:
Using a generic salutation because you didn’t bother to research the company and figure out who the hiring manager is.
Using inconsistent fonts and font sizes.
Duplicating parts of your resume word for word.
Being too dry, formal, and dull, so that it reads like every other cover letter.
Or, being too casual and treating the reader like your buddy.
Being afraid to be confident, sell yourself, and call out your achievements.
Talking about your weaknesses or lack of qualifications.
On the flip side, being too confident, cocky, and bragging about yourself.
Using a passive tone of voice in your writing.
Not including clear and quantitative examples of achievements.
Forgetting to use a spellchecker and grammar checking software.
Only talking about yourself and what you want.
Sharing too much personal information.
Writing a cover letter longer than one page.
Sample cover letter
Just as you can’t write a one-size-fits-all cover letter for every job, I won’t be able to provide you with an example that fits everyone’s profession.
However, this sample should give you some ideas for how you can improve your cover letter.