Like many recruiters, I rarely read cover letters. Most of us zoom right into the resume for a quick scan of the candidate and avoid the cover letter whenever possible. Why should we read two different documents that are basically trying to say the same thing? When we have 100 resumes to read, why read 200 documents instead of just 100?
When do I read cover letters?
- Writing intensive position (Technical writing, Marketing Communications, etc)
- Hiring manager specifically requests them
- Candidate says something ridiculous or interesting that makes me want to read further
- Cover letter is sent in the body of the e-mail, NOT as an attachment
What do the experts say?
Recruiters – Recruiters that work in high volume environments will say they are too busy to read them. Unless their internal or external client is asking for a resume, I doubt it will be read.
HR – People in HR that have some recruiting duties will most likely say they always read them. Maybe it is because of their HR blood and a commitment to process, process, process. Also, HR folks that also recruit sometimes work for companies that aren’t experiencing volume in hiring, or else their company would hire a recruiter, or another recruiter to handle it. This may mean they will spend a few more minutes to read each cover letter since it might be the only opening.
Professional Resume Writers – They will tell you that it’s absolutely necessary to have a strong cover letter with your resume. Not only do they make money off of it, but they also do make some great points, or have seen candidates hired simply for having a well-written cover letter.
You clearly need one. Everyone has their own opinion, so my suggestion is to write up a quick cover letter that you can easily tweak around for each position. Also, stop sending your cover letter as an attachment, I hate that. I don’t want to click on more than one thing when I open up your e-mail. If you write it in the body of the e-mail, I might actually read it, and like it.