Cover letters. Are they dead? Do you need one? Do you know how to write one? Lucky you, we’ve got all the answers!
Leaning into our professional experience in a variety of fields, we started weighing the power of cover letters with hiring managers. We tapped everyone from C-level hiring managers to third-party recruiters to understand if they value a cover letter from a candidate, and if so, why. What came back to us was a bit shocking and provided a unique perspective on the job market and career progression.
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Who Did We Ask
Our Mentor Happy team is comprised of a variety of professional experts across many industries. Some of us have come from recruiting and human resources and understand hiring from a talent acquisition perspective. Some of us have spent our careers in management within accounting, finance, sales, operations, and administration. Some of us have launched start-ups, sold them and lived to tell the tale. But our one common thread is we’ve all sat in the hiring seat within our industries at some point in our career. We view career progression from a hiring managers perspective. All in, we are pulling our mindshare from a lot of different places to bring you actionable career advice.
So, when we decided to look for input on cover letters, we hit the phones and started dialing our contacts in the above-mentioned vocations within over two dozen industries. Here’s what we learned.
Cover Letters Are Controversial
For some reason cover letters are controversial and I cannot explain why. From our perspective, a cover letter is absolutely necessary for a successful job search. Specifically a targeted cover letter. However, some candidates argue that cover letters are not read and are not impactful.
But, our recent informal poll of hiring managers revealed, cover letters are necessary and even expected from hiring managers! Over 92% expect a cover letter to accompany a resume!
My guess is the concept that cover letters are dead is born out of ignorance or possibly laziness. No one enjoys writing a cover letter, especially multiple targeted cover letters, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary to fuel a successful job search.
Why You Should Use A Cover Letter
This is easy. A cover letter allows you to humanize the process. When talking with hiring managers they each reported that a well-written cover letter gave them a connection with a candidate prior to the initial job interview.
Think of your resume as a tool to highlight your professional experience and body of work. A cover letter, on the other hand, allows you to share information not found on your resume.
- Ability to relocate.
- Percentage of acceptable travel, especially if you are a road warrior!
- Opportunity to touch on a job gap or unique skill.
A cover letter also allows you to address accomplishments in a very direct manner. While your resume should be created with accomplishment based content, your cover letter is an opportunity to draw attention to those accomplishments from a different perspective. Your cover letter should not repeat the same bullets used on your resume but should reframe your most impressive accomplishments using allowing the reader to view your skills through a different lens.
- Create a quick snapshot of how you drove profit, reduced spend or impacted the bottom line.
- Present accomplishments in a percentage format to highlight large successes.
- Highlight an accomplishment that would be of specific interest to the organization you are attempting to land an interview with.
Job Hunting Is Not For The Lazy
If you plan to begin a job hunt, do not waste your time if you are not willing to be all in. What does all in mean? In this instance, it simply means do not be lazy and expect results; fully immerse yourself in the process!
Sure writing a cover letter is difficult and time-consuming, but why bother wasting your time searching for a new gig if you’re going to phone it in? A cover letter is one more tool in your toolbox. It is a key to open doors and market your skills. If you came to our Mentor Happy team for job search coaching, I would expect you would want us to use every resource we could to assist you. If that’s true, then why wouldn’t you do the same for yourself?
If you want to land the best interviews, with the best companies and earn the highest job offer possible, the process begins the minute you apply for the position. Set yourself apart from your competition. Create a stellar targeted cover letter and even better-targeted resume and make a name for yourself! You have the keys to success, you just need to start the engine!