If you’re a job seeker, you will already have a resume in place. But do you use a cover letter while applying for jobs?

Cover letters are a fantastic way to communicate and set the first impression to your possible future employer. Amidst the hundreds of applications received by the recruiters, a compelling cover letter will help you to stand above the competition.

But still, job seekers tend to ignore writing a cover letter while applying for a job. You will be surprised to know that 83 percent of recruiters have mentioned that cover letters play an important role in hiring decisions according to a survey conducted by Resume Lab.

So, if you are still wondering if you should invest your time in writing a cover letter, this article is for you.

Why cover letters are so important

HR leaders say that cover letters speak a lot on behalf of the candidates. It is a perfect way to visualize the motivation behind applying for the job. It is also a platform for the candidate to show their creativity and ability to think out-of-the-box. Use the cover letter to talk about the backstory why you admire the company or what makes you apply for a particular job.

Some candidates also prefer to talk about hobbies or interesting projects that they might have done which is not otherwise mentioned in their resume. A cover letter might work like a charm if you know how to sell yourself perfectly especially for a job role where you might be a misfit.

For example, a seasoned professional used the cover letter to put forward her justification for a job that was meant for entry-level. She mentioned how she is preferring to choose comfort and easy commute over low salary given that she is a new mom.

This is just an example; you can use the cover letter to turn it in your favor.

Whether it is your dream job, flexibility, unique challenges that the job offer, or if you think you are a good culture fit for the organization, don’t shy away from talking about it in your cover letter.

A cover letter also lets you talk about your career aspirations, explain career gaps, reasons for changing jobs, or highlight career achievements and project career growth.

Is the cover letter mandatory?

Cover letters are not mandatory, but 74 percent of the recruiters prefer to receive a job application along with a cover letter. Whether you’re applying through automated tools or writing an email to the recruiter, a cover letter is always beneficial and most of the recruiters like to receive a personalized cover letter.

Even if cover letters are optional, you can still go ahead and send one to drastically increase your chance to catch the attention of the recruiters.

The survey report reveals that 77 percent of the recruiters will like to receive a cover letter along with the resume. In another survey report, it was revealed that 72 percent of the recruiters will still expect to receive a cover letter even if it is given as optional.

Cover letters can backfire!

Yes! It may sound a bit odd but it is true. A poorly written cover letter can cause more harm than good. A generalized cover letter doesn’t attract the recruiter and most likely it will end up in the trash because it has nothing extraordinary about it.

A poorly written or generalized cover letter can be interpreted as “just another candidate looking for a job”.

Quick tips to write a stellar cover letter

  1. Personalize
  2. Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name
  3. Craft a killer opening statement
  4. Showcase the right experience and skills that can help in making a hiring decision
  5. Emphasize on what values you can bring to the table given your past skills and experiences
  6. Go beyond your resume. Talk about things that are relevant but not already mentioned in the resume

Wrapping up

A cover letter is a must when applying for a job unless mentioned otherwise or you’re applying on a tool which is a pretty straightforward process and have no option to upload a cover letter.

But in other cases, if you are sending a cover letter, ensure it is a thought- through one, well-written, proofread and edited, and most importantly a personalized one.

It should look as if you are applying for that particular job only. Highlight why a recruiter should choose you above anyone else. Sound confident in your cover letter which wins half the battle for landing the job.

Remember, a worst-case scenario could be your application landing up in the trash bin, but the best-case scenario is landing the job. So, take out time, and write your cover letter well before hitting up the send button.