Do I really need a cover letter in 2018?Some recruiters still skim through cover letters and stop to read the ones that catch their eyes – which is why a cover letter is still necessary today but should look different than those of the past focusing on storytelling.
Sometimes finding a new job can feel like a full-time job itself. Between searching for the right position, adjusting your resume to fit each role and writing a cover letter, it takes a lot of work to get hired. As everyone seems stretched for time these days, you may be wondering is a cover letter really necessary?
The answer is yes and no. There are two schools of thought on the cover letter. The first says its dead and has no place in our fast-paced, digital world. A survey by Boston-based employment agency Addison found that only 18 percent of hiring managers rank the cover letter as an important element of the hiring process. And last year CNBC reported that 47 percent of jobseekers decided to move away from tradition and didn’t submit one at all with their most recent application.
On the other hand, some argue that the cover letter is still an important way to distinguish yourself from the crowd. According to Inc, recruiters still skim through cover letters and stop to read the ones that catch their eyes – which is why a cover letter is still necessary today but should look different than those of the past. Today’s cover letters should focus on storytelling – explaining in an attention-grabbing way why you are the right person for the role. Forgoing the cover letter can make the recruiter think you aren’t motivated enough for the job. A cover letter is still your first chance to explain why you want the job and provides an opportunity to show off your writing skills.
However, with more companies using ATS systems as a first line for screening candidates, your cover letter best increases your chances of an interview if you get it to a human first. All in all, cover letters are here to stay – especially if the job posting lists the name of the recruiter.
So, go ahead and write that cover letter.
Follow these tips for a painless cover letter writing process:
- Make it personalized. Don’t send a cover letter addressed “to whom it may concern” or “dear hiring manager.” Use the recruiter’s name instead. If you’re sending the cover letter to a general email address and don’t know who to address it to, just skip it.
- Keep it short. Nobody wants to read a long cover letter, and we doubt you want to write one either! Keep it to three paragraphs – four paragraphs max!
- Create a story. Recruiters will move on from your cover letter if it follows the old school format of regurgitating your resume. Instead, express your connection with the company and what lead you to apply. The more interesting your story, the more likely the recruiter is to reach out to learn more.
- Triple-check your cover letter. Just like your resume, make sure there are no mistakes in your cover letter. Typos, errors and poorly-written sentences send a bad message to recruiters. If you’re careless in your application are you careless in your work too? Better to do a thorough edit and ask a friend, classmate or mentor to read it too.