Are Cover Letters Still Necessary?

Cover letters are not outdated. They are still a recruiter's first glance into who you are and which valued skills you will bring to the position. 

Posted: 07/25/2013 08:00 AM EDT

Do employers still take the time to review an applicant's cover letter when making a hiring decision? Does it really matter if you have a cover letter when submitting your resume? Is having the cover letter still a necessary step when applying for your next position? The short answer is absolutely yes!

If ever there was a step to skip during your job search attaching a cover letter with your employment application is not the one to ignore.

Think of the cover letter as the recruiter's first glance into who you are and which valuable skills you will bring to the position. Granted not every resume screener will pay close attention to each word of your note, but use your cover letter as bonus time to talk about yourself and be sure to use key words that are relevant to the open position for which you are applying to further tailor your employment application and show the value you will bring, once hired, to the company.

Now that we've answered the question "To be, or not to be," here's how to write a great cover letter.

Keep it simple: Get straight to the point of why you should be hired. Include your cover letter as a separate document or attachment. You may consider including the note in the body of your email when submitting your application via email directly to a recruiter or hiring officer and be sure to reference that your resume has been attached. Whichever the case, your cover letter should be the window into what the recruiter will read next in your resume.

Open with a direct salutation. Using the "Dear Sir or Madam" standard opening is safe but if you know whether the recruiting officer is male or female or, even better, if you know their full name, use it and direct your letter to their attention.

Next, be specific about which job you are applying for and use the exact title or a reference number for that position so there is no confusion or mix-up with your application.

Following your introduction, discuss why you want to work for the company. Include the company name in your letter and mention both what you could bring to the company as well as how the company would add to your overall growth and professional development. You are making your pitch to the hiring manager as to why are you are the best candidate for the job.

Finally, and I cannot stress this point enough, always use spell check. Nothing is more frustrating to a recruiting officer than finding grammatical errors or typos throughout a candidate's cover letter and resume. Be professional at all times and use your best judgment when writing all parts of your employment application and you will be sure to stand out as a qualified candidate.

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(Photo: Marc Romanelli/Getty Images)

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