Is Anybody Even Reading Cover Letters?

by Evil HR Lady on March 11, 2011

Dear Evil HR Lady,

Now that employers aren’t reading resumes – instead just putting them through scanners to find keyword matches – do they still read cover letters? I’ve got no problem crafting specific cover letters for the various jobs I’m applying to. That said, my job search is time-consuming enough without spending time and energy on a cover letter no one is going to read.

Is Anybody Even Reading Cover Letters?

And if you don’t have time (or desire) to read my article, linked above, make sure you read Alison Green’s (Ask a Manager) article on cover letters. I quote from it in my article, but you need to read the whole thing.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Ask a Manager March 11, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Thank you!

If there is one contribution I make to the world, I hope it will be convincing people to write better cover letters. It will seriously get you an interview where you might otherwise not have gotten one.

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Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm

My brother isn't in HR but he is involved in hiring and says that he's never seen someone hired that didn't have a cover letter. And he works for the company that owns Blogger, so what does that tell you?

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laura March 12, 2011 at 2:07 am

I don't consider candidates who don't include a cover letter, period. Although I did once receive an intriguing resume from someone who didn't include one. I instructed HR to call her up to schedule an interview but require her to write a cover letter and and send it to me first.

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Anonymous March 12, 2011 at 3:23 am

Suzanne: YOU MADE THE YAHOO NEWS FEED!!!! Your article on 5 ways to get a bad boss fired just showed up as I was looking at the top news banner on google. How cool! Congrats!

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HR software March 12, 2011 at 3:45 am

Cover letters, for me, can make or break an application. It's like how the applicant sees himself or herself. It's like his or her chance to provide the prospect employer a concrete glimpse of how he or she can perform as an employee and as a person as well.

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Anonymous March 16, 2011 at 6:44 am

As a corporate recruiter for 2 Fortune 100 companies over the past 10 years, my advice would be don't bother with cover letters. 90% are not written very well. If you think yours is well done, then yes, send it along, because I will read it if you send it. Most of the time when I read them I am disappointed that I wasted my time in doing so, but I always read them anyway, though they rarely make me happy. When I get 800-1300 resumes in response to a job posting, I don't have time to read cover letters that are full of fluff, as most are. And I don't blame people for that, it's just that most people who write them think it's a formality and they need one so they include one but don't know exactly what to say. There are times when a well-written cover letter has been really helpful, so like I said, if you feel strongly about sending one go ahead, but it will definitely not hurt your chances at all by not sending one when you apply online, unless it says cover letter required.

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newresource March 22, 2011 at 1:41 pm

After reading these comments, I think you better go with one. You never know who is going to see your resume.

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Ness Papers March 24, 2011 at 10:59 am

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