Many job seekers spend a lot of time writing or editing their cover letter for each job application. Is all this cover letter work in vain? Do I need a cover letter? Do hiring managers and recruiters even read cover letters?
This depends on whether it’s a recruiter or hiring manager. It also depends heavily on the type of position you seek. We’ll go through whether employers really read your cover letter.
Let’s first clarify the difference between a recruiter and hiring manager.
A recruiter, sometimes referred to as a headhunter, has the sole duty of finding qualified individuals for a position. They usually sift through resumes and forward the most qualified candidates to the hiring manager.
They may also be responsible for conducting first-round interviews. They’re usually not employed within the organization and are paid a commission or fee for their services. Larger organizations usually employ both recruiters and hiring managers.
A hiring manager usually works within the organization and has responsibilities that stretch outside the scope of a recruiter. This may include screening, managing and retaining employees. It’s usually the hiring manager who has the biggest influence on whether or not you get hired.
Hiring Managers are most likely to read your cover letter. They’re usually tasked with making the final hiring decision so they may dig into your cover letter and resume in more detail. The cover letter can put a human touch to the plain old boring resume.
It’s also an excellent way to state why you’re a good fit for the position in a conversational tone. The smaller the company, the more likely your cover letter is going to be read. Why? Smaller companies are super focused on each hire and are more likely to dig deep into your cover letter and resume.
Recruiters are less likely to read your cover letter for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they’re more focused on finding candidates based on qualifications which are better expressed in a resume. They usually scan a resume to see relevant skills and qualifications that match what the employer is looking for. Second, they usually go through tons of resumes and it would be very time consuming to read each cover letter.
It depends on the company and the position you’re applying for. It also depends on the process in place for hiring as it differs in every company. Sometimes, there is a sole hiring manager responsible and other times a few people have a say in the final decision.
With that said, you don’t know who’s examining your cover letter or whether they’ve read it. You should always submit a cover letter as having one doesn’t hurt. They may not care about your cover letter, but they certainly won’t reject you because you sent one.
The Only time your cover letter can do more harm than good is when it’s not written properly. You can check out our post on how to write an awesome cover letter.
The answer to this may surprise you; a cover letter is sometimes even more important if you’re applying to an entry level job, or when you don’t have much experience.
You don’t have much experience and skill to lead with in your resume so the cover letter is the best place to tell the employer why you’d make a good fit. You can do this by showing your soft skills, education and your desire for the position.
We wrote a good piece here on how to write a cover letter with little to no experience.
There are certain positions that don’t put heavy emphasis on a cover letter. Those jobs tend to be more technical and the hiring decision is usually based heavily on your skills. Healthcare and Information Technology are good examples of such industries.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t send one, you should send one unless the employer specifically states one is not required.
Do I need a cover letter?
There is no way to know for sure whether your cover letter will be read. It depends on a few factors,. With that said, you should be sending a well-written and tailored cover letter for each position. A well-written cover letter will never hurt your chances of securing that position. In many cases, it will increase the likelihood of your resume being read.
Good luck with your job search!