March 29, 2016    |    By

Ah cover letters…the bane of your existence. Okay they aren’t that bad. But are they truly necessary? Your main goal is to get an interview. So honestly, it depends on if the company requires a cover letter or not.

If the company or recruiter isn’t asking for a cover letter, don’t write one. Think it will help you stand out? It won’t. Large companies and recruiters often use what’s called an Applicant Tracking System which is an automated system designed for scanning resumes. They typically do not scan cover letters. So do you need to write a cover letter? Are cover letters still relevant? Let’s find out what the research says…

Research done by found the following stats:

  • 97% of Hiring Managers/Recruiters/HR reps said they decide who to interview based on resumes, not cover letters.
  • Only 10% of Hiring Managers/Recruiters/HR reps said they read cover letters
  • 70% of those who read cover letters said that if the resume didn’t meet the criteria they either wouldn’t read the cover letter or still wouldn’t interview them no matter how great the cover letter was.

Most of the time, even if you write a cover letter, the hiring manager never sees it. also found that many recruiters rejected people because of their cover letter but never hired someone based off a mediocre resume and an awesome cover letter.

We’ve clearly made the point that cover letters are more of a pain for both you and the recruiter/hiring manager than they are a benefit. That is, until they aren’t. What do I mean? Well, sometimes a company requires a cover letter. Other times, the job you are applying for actually constitutes you writing one. Let’s take a look at a few exceptions to our strong, “no cover letter” stance.

These are the times you need to write a cover letter:

  • Writing jobs – Anyone hiring for a writing position will want to know how well you write. Writing a cover letter can showcase your skills. They will also most likely read it because of the nature of the job.
  • Jobs without an online resume submission option – Some jobs require you to mail, fax or drop off your resume in person. In these cases, they will probably want a cover letter. They will have less people applying because of the added inconvenience, so they’ll have more time to full review the small pool of applicants they receive.
  • When the employer asks for one – Most employers are looking to see if you can simply follow instructions. If they say to submit and resume and a cover letter and you only submit a resume, you can kiss your chances of landing that interview goodbye. A lot of times, it’s a formality and they won’t even read it. But you still need to make the effort and write a good one.

Cover letter or no cover letter? It shouldn’t be too hard of a question now. Do it if it’s required or you are applying for a writing position. Otherwise, let the cover letter die. Spend more time on your resume since that’s what they will be looking at to see if you meet the minimum criteria.


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This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.