Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2024? Do recruiters read cover letters? When is a сover letter necessary? How important is a cover letter? Do I need a cover letter if I think my resume is strong enough? Wrap-up
Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2024? Do recruiters read cover letters? When is a сover letter necessary? How important is a cover letter? Do I need a cover letter if I think my resume is strong enough? Wrap-up
Updated 05/01/2021

Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2024?

Ready to apply for a position with just a resume? Wait a bit! Our guide will prove that a cover letter can also help increase your odds and save your job search time.

Ready to apply for a position with just a resume? Wait a bit! Our guide will prove that a cover letter can also help increase your odds and save your job search time.

The opinion that recruiters do not read cover letters is firmly rooted in 2024 due to some studies of the modern labor market and relevant statistics on this basis. It discredits the importance of the cover letter, given the time-consuming process of its writing. But how do we explain the resumes of so many candidates getting lost among all the other application documents, failing to not only land the position, but to even get an interview. Probably, a single resume is still not enough to catch the attention of potential employers, and your question "Should I include a cover letter?" remains open. This guide will help you put things right.


Do recruiters read cover letters?

The CareerBuilder company, which specializes in human capital management space, asked recruiters the question "Are cover letters necessary?" to identify the role of this document in the selection and evaluation of candidates. According to this study, 49% of recruiters said the cover letter is the second-best way to strengthen your resume and increase your chances for an interview behind the customization of the resume for each position. 28% of respondents regard this application paper as a critical factor in decision making. These statistics prove that cover letters hold sway in 2024 and can still become your trump card when applying for a vacancy.
The resume and cover letter are complementary documents with different functions. The former demonstrates your experience, past responsibilities, and skills. The latter is designed to show what you can offer a particular employer if you get the desired role. Therefore, you should not choose which one will be of greater benefit, but instead, you should arm yourself with both to provide the employer with a broader picture and better prove your value as a candidate for the vacancy position.


When is a сover letter necessary?

These days, the applicant is armed with unlimited options for job searching, ranging from traditional job boards to vacancy announcements on social media sites. And if the issue of employment is especially acute, you may prefer to combine all the possible tools and monitor attractive offers on each platform. Now let's suppose that you have selected several desired positions. How do you know when you should attach a cover letter in response to a vacancy?

Signs that a cover letter is required

There are several cases where your resume does not replace a cover letter. Keep the following tips in mind when applying online:

  1. Your resume does not speak volumes. This implies the absence of a professional background, which is typical for the specialists at the beginning of a career and recent graduates who apply for an internship. Such resumes are often short, and there is not enough information to establish yourself as the right person. In this case, a cover letter is important as it is the primary indicator of your motivation, acquired skills, and desire to develop at a particular company.
  2. Your resume is not of value for a particular position. No one is immune from a career change. Moreover, it is great when a person realizes their true calling or wants to try their hand in a new industry and is not afraid to make a fresh start. However, finding the first job when changing careers is the most challenging step because you have to prove your professional aptitude from scratch. Your resume may be teeming with previous employers, but those experiences and qualifications will most likely not be relevant to your new career goals. That is why the best solution for you is to include a cover letter in the application. Since a cover letter does not have a single generally accepted format, it allows you to add any information about yourself and your past duties that you consider appropriate and advantageous. A cover letter also gives you an excellent opportunity to mention the reasons for the career change and your motivation to develop in a new field at this time, which will undoubtedly interest any potential employer. An explanation of such a seismic shift will prove that your decision is deliberate, balanced, and conscious, which increases interest in your candidacy.
  3. Someone referred you to the available vacancy. Word of mouth and networking are useful job search tools that sometimes become more effective than regular job boards. The main advantage of this connecting-with-employer technique is personal referrals from the guarantor and, as a result, an increased credit of trust. Despite the apparent privileges, this situation is an occasion to take additional efforts and send a cover letter. Such a recommendation places an additional responsibility upon you, since you cannot let your guarantor down. Besides, the employer should see that you are really interested in the particular position, have the necessary qualifications, and are not just taking the easy road of employment through friends.
  4. You apply for remote or part-time employment. The modern labor market provides many employment opportunities that do not imply a mandatory visit to the office or working within a clearly defined time frame. In these cases, thanks to advanced digital technologies, the employer and contractor can maintain fruitful cooperation even when they are in different countries. However, to get such a position, you need to establish yourself as a responsible and reliable employee since your activities cannot be controlled and monitored every day. Such characteristics are rarely reflected in a resume, which makes it necessary to use a cover letter to create a favorable first impression and establish your reputation as a future employee.
  5. You just have something to add. Getting a position in a highly competitive environment is the result of a winning self-presentation. If there are facts that do not fit into your resume but are essential components of your professional portrait, then the question "Should you write a cover letter or not?" recedes, and the response is obvious. Since a cover letter does not have a clear structure, it gives you full rein when choosing its content. Feel free to apply any facts that, in your opinion, add points to you as a candidate. But it is worth remembering that the length of the document should not exceed one page as the recruiter will not spend time on long reads. Therefore, take the effort to select only the characteristics that are most relevant to the specific position and offer the most value to the particular employer.

How important is a cover letter?

As you can see, there are still situations where a cover letter can tilt the balance in your favor. Moreover, it is safe to say that this document wouldn't go amiss even if the recruiter just skims it without going into detail. Here are a few reasons why you should always submit a cover letter:

  • Sending a resume takes a few seconds, given that it was prepared in advance and predominantly is not customized for each new vacancy (though it should be). The cover letter, on the other hand, confirms that you spent additional time thinking about suitable characteristics and writing text. It gives you an edge over candidates who have ignored this application tool.
  • Since each cover letter is drafted specifically for each vacancy, you study the requirements for the position, correlate them with your skills and qualifications, and evaluate your chances. Providing this application paper, you prove that your choice of company is not accidental, and your application for the post is conscious. This fact increases the loyalty of the recruiter and the employer by default.
  • The study of vacancies, requirements, and professional introspection in the process of writing a letter helps not only to create customized and compelling text but also to understand whether this role is desirable for you and whether you are ready to unlock your potential in the proposed tasks and conditions. Therefore, it helps you to avoid not only failed interviews but also a poor choice of position.

Do I need a cover letter if I think my resume is strong enough?

The resume is a document with a clear structure and generally accepted requirements for the content that helps the potential employer to understand whether the candidate’s background corresponds to the desired position. However, these criteria are not the only ones when selecting a candidate for long-term cooperation. As a potential employee, you will have to establish relationships in the internal and external environment of the company. Therefore, it is essential to demonstrate personal qualities and to prove compliance with the values and mission of the corporation. If there is no place for such information in the resume, then it will be most welcome in the cover letter.

“When I go through hundreds of applications from people who all have very similar-sounding experience, cover letters are the only glimpse I have into a person's personality.”
— Sophia Amoruso, #GirlBoss.

Thanks to this one-page text, you get the opportunity to become an individual with a conscious choice to join a particular team, instead of just a faceless applicant with a list of previous posts. This is one of the main reasons why you should work on a cover letter, even if it is optional for the desired role.

To increase the chances of your document hitting the target, remember a few basic rules:

  • Do not start your introduction with words like "My name is Gary Smith ...". First, the recruiter will know or already knows your name from the resume. Second, this paper has limited space that should not be spent on duplicate information that is not related to your professional value.
  • Study the requirements for your position on job boards in general and on the desired company's website in particular. It will help you understand what information will be of value to the employer to put in your application document.
  • Browse samples of successful cover letters to analyze attention-grabbing tricks, effective ways of presenting information, and methods of how to "sell" yourself as a specialist. Adopt the best practices, but remember that your document must be unique.
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Despite the stereotyped opinion that the cover letter is an outdated document that has lost its value, it still strengthens the resume with additional useful information, and a high percentage of recruiters still use it as a foundation for decision-making. Keep these facts in mind if the question "Why is a cover letter necessary?" ever bothers you again.

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