Recruiter Cover Letter

Do Recruiters And Hiring Managers Read Cover Letters?

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Do you really need cover letters?

The answer is, “Yes!”

Recruiters and hiring managers read cover letters and cover e-mails for three main reasons:

  • To find out information that may not be in your resume or immediately obvious
  • To get a fast overview of your most relevant experience
  • To find out why you are interested in their company or their opening

The cover letter—or cover e-mail—should not be long: two or three paragraphs with bullets highlighting your most relevant achievements, experience, and skills. You might also let the recruiter or hiring company know what soft skills you bring to the table: teamwork, leadership, a get-it-done attitude, efficiency, organization, a concern for the bottom line. You know your own strengths.

The cover letter is the place where, if necessary, you explain a change in careers or locations, notify potential employers that your search is confidential, respond to a request by the company for references or salary ranges, or share other important information that is not appropriate for the resume.

I believe strongly in cover letters because they are far more personal than the strictly formatted bullet points of a resume. When I talk with you about your career goals and your experience, I ask what any recruiter or hiring manager would ask—and then I put the answers in your cover letter.

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Robin Schlinger

Robin Schlinger is the founder of Robin’s Resumes which provides excellent services to those who value the best in resumes and career marketing documentation.

10 comments

  1. Hello,

    A few days ago, I emailed my cover letter and resume for job opportunity at a think tank in DC. It wasn’t until the the next day that I spotted and error, so I resent the materials. Then, the following day I spotted another error. My question is, how soon do they look at application materials once they are received through their system. In other words, do they instantly look at an application the moment it hits the system, or do they wait until enough applications are received to start reviewing materials? Each time I sent my materials, I would receive a confirmation email.

  2. A cover letter is important to add to your resume, in that it gives a prospective employer a more personal look at your professional written and verbal skills. It should show an insight into the type of person you are, your goals, and how you can be an asset to the employer.

  3. I would like to respond to some of the points above:

    First: Cover letters are not read by some recruiters. However, others will read them. Recent surveys indicate 20% to 50% will read and consider cover letters. Some require them. Those that do not read them, ignore them. Do you want to eliminate yourself from 20% to 50% of the jobs you apply for because you didn’t send the cover letter? How are you going to know in advance if the cover letter will be read?

    Second: Bullet points. If you use bullet points, you still demonstrate good use of the English language. Bullet points are easier to read than just paragraphs and can be used to highlight key accomplishments. Many recruiters only scan cover letters, and bullet points make that job easier.

  4. learningfromnegativeexamples

    and just a week or two ago I read another HR Expert pontificating about how cover letters were now useless, never even read, because they were literally thrown way without being read, and the resume` put directly into the scanning system.

    • I went through a job coach and I asked one of the associates her honest opinion on providing cover letters and she frankly told me that she hears that companys don’t really look at them.

      We were always taught never to send a “naked” resume, but if in this day and time this is becoming useless what do you really do? Do we just send them to company’s that request them?

  5. I would have to say this is on a case by case basis. Most cover letters are snap shots of the resume and objective. I like to go straight to the meat. If the resume does not meet want you are looking for. Then the chances of a cover letter filling in the gaps are slim. So whatever you place on a cover letter should always been in the resume.

    • I think taking cover letters on a case by case basis means you’re missing out on great candidates and really limiting your company’s ability to grow. I’ve relocated and switched career and that was never stated in my résumé – only in the cover letter. I’ve had great interviews and landed some interesting jobs based on a good cover letter. So picking and choosing which letters you read may give you all the power but you may be excluding people who will contribute to your company for years to come.

  6. I agree with everything except the inclusion of bullet points in a cover letter. A cover letter is an example of your writing style and abilities. Using bullet points will not reflect these abilities. Using bullet points in a cover letter is a one track way to the rejection pile.

    • Ditto! If you highlight excellent written, verbal and interpersonal communication skills in your resume, prove it in a sparkling cover letter. Bullet points are gaps in the thought process, you wouldn’t put in ellipses, it’s almost like pausing in an interview with “uhhh… mmmm” or even worse, “you know…, it’s like…” Good luck job hunters.

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