I am often asked about cover letters. Truth be told, I cannot remember the last time that I read a cover letter. I don’t even remember the last decade that I read one. I am not alone. Many individuals in my business don’t read them either. The primary reason is time. I probably only receive a cover letter with about 10% of the resumes that I receive.
When I first started in the recruiting and staffing industry, cover letters were the norm. For the most part, people had one resume and the cover letter was used to indicate the additional skills and experience possessed putting them on target for the job advertised. In those days, you had to read the cover letters.
For those of you that might be employing a similar strategy my guess is you are probably not receiving many invitations to interview. The problem that you are facing is that many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) do not include the cover letters in the key word searches that are used to find candidates with relevant skills and experience. Here it is: if your resume has correct key words your resume will appear in the search results list. If it does not, your resume will not be seen by the hiring manager or recruiter.
If the job that you are applying for requests a cover letter then, without question, write the cover letter. Stress how your skills and experience align with the company’s job description. After reading your cover letter the recruiter or hiring manager should feel compelled to review your resume and hopefully call you in for the interview.
In the same way that the cover letter needs to be focused on the job description, so too for your resume. Take the time to customize your resume and you will see an increase in the number of interview invitations you receive.