Don’t you hate seeing, “Please upload your cover letter here”?
I think 99% of the population does, including recruiters! Cover letters are important, but not for the main reason you think. Most hiring managers never see them, and if they do, they are glanced over in just 10-15 seconds. Cover letters are used to identify candidates who have taken the time to read the requirements of the job and put in a bit of an extra effort to show initiative.
When writing a cover letter
Instead of seeing it as a boring task, look it at it as an opportunity to summarize your qualifications. It should basically be a bulleted document showing how valuable you have been in previous roles in addition to explaining why you want to work for the company you’re applying to. When viewed this way, it does not seem like such a waste of time. Then, once you land your dream job, it can become your biography, and can be used as your LinkedIn introduction.
When I was recruiting, and this goes for all of my peers, I would click on one document only (especially if your content did not pass the parsing phase of our ATS). Usually this is the resume, but, if the cover letter was attached first, then sometimes I did read it, sometimes just due to lack of time to open 2 documents). This brings us to what a good cover letter looks like. It should be a summary of key accomplishments from your resume. A very common mistake is the use of the T-chart: matching what the job wants to how you meet those credentials.
In most jobs, it is a given that you have good communication skills, teamwork, organizational skills, customer service, skills, technical skills, etc. So for your cover letter, just use your resume as a guide and make it a smaller summary of your top achievements. Showing how you increased sales by 50%, decreased overhead by 30%, collaborated to improve client relations is much better than listing generic sentences in a chart format.
Cover letters are not dead, they are still used to weed out applicants.
If my job posting required a cover letter and none was provided, even if the candidate had all the qualifications they are marked ‘reviewed not qualified’ due to not following instructions. For competitive jobs, recruiters (and hiring managers) also like to see effort. Writing a good cover letter shows effort on your part to go the extra mile. It might never be read, but just attaching it shows you researched enough to create a personalized letter.
They are also perfect (if written correctly) to use when introducing yourself via email or via LinkedIn. A simple message stating “see attached resume” is not going to motivate a recruiter to open it. But a list of accomplishments (in the form of a cover letter) will!
So when you see the “Upload cover letter here” space (even if marked optional) – it is highly recommended that you have a summary of your accomplishments ready for them. Cover letters are not dead, they are actually a way you can gain an interview when used correctly!
Looking for tips to improve your resume? Read this post.