The Importance of a Cover Letter Explained | Lensa Insights

Overview

Acknowledging the Importance of a Cover Letter Is the First Step to Career Success

Whether you are at the beginning of your career or a seasoned professional ready for a change, understanding the importance of a cover letter is critical. 

LinkedIn posts are lying to you—recruiters do read cover letters. Your letter is your sales pitch. This is how you’ll show the company that they have (unknowingly) been looking exactly for YOU!. 

A cover letter does something a resume alone will never accomplish—it evokes emotions. 

After finishing a book or a show, have you ever felt like somebody important has disappeared from your life? And now you want them back? That’s the feeling you want a recruiter to have after reading your letter. 

If you take the time to compose a top-notch cover letter to accompany your resume, you will let your personality shine. It will make recruiters remember you and want to call you back.

Understanding why a cover letter is important in the hiring process will help you market your skills, knowledge, and experience. In turn, it will significantly increase your chances of getting invited for an interview and, subsequently, getting the job. 

In this article, you will find out:

What Does a Cover Letter Do for You?

A cover letter is a document you send along with your resume when you apply for a job. Its primary purpose is to introduce you to your prospective employer. But it should do so in a way that’ll make them not want to miss a chance to meet you in person!

Besides showcasing your skills and experience, a good cover letter humanizes you and helps you make a positive first impression—it attaches the soul to the name. This is important because, besides professional accomplishments and suitable education, companies also look for candidates who will fit in with their company culture. 

A cover letter briefly summarizes your skills, qualifications, professional experience, notable achievements, and personality traits that are relevant for a specific role.

Listing all the jobs or projects you have ever done will not do you any favors. You will have to carefully consider what to include in a cover letter to show you are a suitable candidate who can quickly assume the position and thrive in it. 

Submitting a cover letter will also immediately put you in a more advantageous position compared to those who only send in their resumes. 

Taking the time and making an extra effort to write this letter properly shows the hiring manager that you are serious about working in their company. 

Why a Cover Letter Is Important for Professional Success

A young professional-looking Black woman smiling

Source: Emmy E

There are many reasons why a cover letter should accompany your resume. With a well-composed letter, you will:

  1. Start a conversation with the hiring manager
  2. Show your personality
  3. Explain why you are a great candidate
  4. Express passion for the position

If you manage to accomplish all that, the hiring manager will be glad to meet you in person. You will have another chance to back up all you have included in your cover letter and increase the chances of receiving a job offer. 

A Cover Letter Helps Build a Relationship With a Prospective Employer

A cover letter is a conversation starter. It is a chance for employers to get to know you better before they decide whether they want to meet you in person. It’s like a good pick-up line. Think about it—you would likely give a shot to someone who approaches you in a fun and intriguing way. 

Your resume speaks to your qualifications and experience—your cover letter fills in the gaps. It highlights your skills and professional strengths while focusing on how they are relevant to the particular role. But it doesn’t reveal everything—it gives you the chance to truly impress the recruiter during the interview. 

When you write your cover letter, avoid focusing on what working in that company can do for you and your career. A good cover letter emphasizes the contribution you can make to the company and how you can help it grow. It shows why the hiring manager can’t afford not to give you a chance! 

A Cover Letter Tells Your Story

A resume is a bland, soulless list of data and educational and professional accomplishments. A cover letter is an opportunity to elaborate on that dry information, provide context, and connect it to the concrete role. 

You will show motivation for applying for that particular position, while the recruiter will learn more about you. They will see whether you are an entry-level candidate intent on gaining more work experience or an experienced professional looking for a career change. 

A cover letter is also a way to show your personality and the core values you bring to the table. You can highlight your best traits here, such as leadership, autonomy, or self-motivation.

A cover letter offers you a chance to elaborate on your past roles too. How did they prepare you for the one you want? What successes did you enjoy, and what challenges did you face? 

A Cover Letter Helps You Stand Out

A recruiter and a candidate in a meeting

Source: Christina Morillo

The primary purpose of a cover letter is to present you as a suitable candidate. 

A cover letter can also reveal your work ethic and attention to detail. It can show how well you can follow instructions. According to Lauren Nelson, a communications specialist, following instructions for the cover letter can be a good signal whether you can take direction once you get the job. 

Your aim should be to present yourself as the perfect candidate with a unique combination of skills, education, and experience that suit the role perfectly. Your cover letter can be your most powerful tool because it shows that you understand the job requirements clearly and have what it takes to fulfill the company’s needs.

A Cover Letter Will Show Your Passion for the Role

You can be the most qualified person in the world, but if you lack the enthusiasm for the role, a recruiter will notice it and won’t be impressed. 

Your resume can flaunt incredible accomplishments, but it will all come to nothing if you are not genuinely passionate about the role. You need to show you are eager to become a member of the organization you’re applying for.

When a Cover Letter Isn’t Necessary

There are several instances when submitting a cover letter isn’t necessary:

  1. An ATS doesn’t allow you to send it
  2. Recruiters already know who you are (you worked together, you are friends, etc.)
  3. You already discussed the job position with a company representative, and you agreed that you don’t need to submit a cover letter

You also shouldn’t attach a cover letter to your resume if you feel it may do more harm than good. For instance, if your writing skills are subpar, you’re better off sticking to a solid resume as a poorly worded letter could leave a bad impression on the recruiter. 

If a job ad clearly says that you shouldn’t send a cover letter, then don’t. Companies sometimes include such a sentence in the middle of the job ad or towards the end to see if candidates have read the ad carefully. Following the instructions is your safest bet.

Still, keep in mind that job ads sometimes state that a cover letter is optional. In that case, it would be better to include it. It may give you an advantage over those applicants who chose not to bother creating a cover letter for that position.

You Could Also Go With a Hybrid Solution—Email Cover Letter

A young Asian woman working at her computer

Source: Thirdman

When you send your resume, you can write a basic cover letter in the body of the email. An email cover letter doesn’t have to be structured and formatted as a regular one. You don’t need to elaborate too much—make it short and straightforward. Include the most critical information.

If you like, you can add some links, but make sure to explain why they are there. Here are some examples:

Link TypeWhy To Include It
Professional blogYou have written a blog on a topic relevant to the role you are applying for
MicrositeYour own website is an excellent way to show your personal brand
LinkedIn profile—particularly the About sectionYour account contains information pertinent to the position you want
Bio page on the website of your current or past employerThe position you were in relates to the one you wish to get

People in creative fields can submit their portfolios. Job ads for graphic designers, web designers, content writers, etc., often require a portfolio. A creative cover letter is also acceptable. 

The Importance of a Tailored and Targeted Cover Letter

Recruiters don’t like to see that you have sent the same cover letter to a million companies. It shows that you haven’t given it much thought or invested much effort into it. 

Every position and every company is different, so you must customize your cover letter accordingly. 

You can use cover letter templates to help you with the structure and the phrasing, but you mustn’t copy-paste a bunch of cliches and call it a day.

Showing how your skills relate to the role and how your experience will help you thrive in that position is key. There is no way you can do it with a generic cover letter

You also have to demonstrate how you can be of value to the company—point out the company’s needs and then comment on how you can meet them. 

It would be best to include some concrete data and facts to support your claims. If a company is looking for a person with leadership skills, mention the size of the team you managed, for example. If the job involves operating heavy machinery, point out any licenses or certifications you have for operating it.

Remember that you will have to defend everything you have included in your cover letter at an interview. It’s important to be honest and only write about things you are ready to discuss further.

Some Elements of a Cover Letter Can Always Be the Same

A young woman typing on her laptop and smiling

Source: Andrea Piacquadio

Although you have to tailor the cover letter to the role you are applying for, there is no need to write a new letter from scratch every time. You can create a basic outline and modify the elements relevant to a particular role.

The table below shows the parts of the cover letter and what they include:

Cover Letter SectionInformation To Include
HeadingFull name
Cell phone number
Email address
Date (make sure it’s accurate)
Hiring manager’s name (if you know it)
Company name
Company address
Addressing the recruiterIf you know the recruiter’s name, address them directly
If you don’t know the recruiter’s name, use one of the following options:
Dear Recruiter
Dear Sir or Madam
Dear Hiring Manager
To whom it may concern
Opening sentenceThe company name
The role you are applying for
Where you saw the ad
Opening paragraphQualifications
Years of experience
Reasons why you think you are the right fit
Main paragraphsSkills
Knowledge
Qualities
Experience
Important projects
Career successes
ClosingSummary of what makes you a great candidate
A call to action—say you would like to talk more in person
Signing offSincerely 
Best regards
Respectfully

You will have to customize the relevant skills and experiences. Don’t include everything you ever worked on and all the skills you have. The person reading the cover letter will quickly lose interest if it is any more than a page long. Pick only the qualities the recruiters want to see—those that will add value to the company and role at hand. 

Make Your Job Hunt Less Stressful

A young woman holding a binder with her resume

Source: Kindel Media

Look at these two facts:

  1. Over 50% of employers prefer candidates who send cover letters
  2. More than a quarter of recruiters base their decisions on cover letters

You can see that the importance of a cover letter is considerable. If you want to increase your chances of getting the job, you need a cover letter.

Considering that only 2% of applicants get invited to an interview, just any cover letter won’t do—it has to be perfect!

Even with a deep understanding of why a cover letter is important and how to make it outstanding, the job search can be stressful. 

You will go over hundreds of ads before you find the one you like. Then you will go through a lengthy and nerve-racking selection process. You finally get the job and realize—even the most perfect roles can feel terrible if you are in the wrong surroundings. 

Are you going to start your search all over again? There is a better way—sign up with Lensa.

Lensa will help you find job listings that match not only your salary and location preferences but also your personality. 

When you register, you get to:

  • Access ads from multiple job boards
  • Test how ATS-friendly your resume is
  • Play the Workstyle Game and learn more about your personality and professional strengths
  • Receive customized job recommendations 
  • Choose jobs based on your personality and cultural preferences
  • Filter out remote positions

How To Register With Lensa 

Registration on the website will take you less than a couple of minutes. All you need to do is:

  1. Go to the Lensa website
  2. Specify the desired job title and location
  3. Type in your email address

Now you can browse job ads, play the Workstyle game, and personalize your account. 

Here are some steps you can take next:

  • Provide your full name and phone number to start receiving notifications
  • Specify the desired compensation, your level of education, years of experience, etc.
  • Upload your resume and unlock Company Reviews and Matching Companies

Completing your profile will ensure you receive job suggestions tailored to your specific preferences. You won’t have to browse through numerous job boards—all you need will be in a single place. Your job search experience will become a lot more pleasant instantly.

Featured image: Andrea Piacquadio

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