Many job seekers send resumes and cover letters by the bundle when they are in the job seeking mode. The jobseeker writes about their commitment, experience, how they fit the position and all sorts of details to catch the eye of the reader. Yet with all of this effort, it is rare that one hears anything at all from the company. The greatest source of frustration for a job seeker must be the lack of follow up by a company after they have taken to the time to send a resume and many candidates also spend their time writing the perfect cover letter.
That begs the question. Do recruiters read cover letters? In my particular case, I do but after I have gone through the resume and plan to call the candidate for more information. At first, I am more interested in name, contact information, current or last company, job title and dates of employment. If that is a strong match. I read on. I will read the cover letter last. Then dial the phone.
I wondered what other recruiters did with cover letters so I put out a poll. Here is what they said.
The following are comments from current recruiters who are out there every day and looking at hundreds of resumes for their open positions.
Here are their comments on whether they read cover letters.
- I never read them, CV for experience, interview to uncover personality etc. Let’s not blur the lines!
- Oh yes, I do!!! Every letter tells me more about the person than the rest of the papers. Or better said the cover letter rounds up the picture I get from the other papers.
- I always read them as they can say a lot about the candidate and how much effort they have put into their application. I really dislike it when a letter is not personally addressed to me, as I always clearly state who they should be sending their details to… I see it as laziness on the candidate’s part.
- I always read the cover letter unless I can tell it’s just a template that the candidate sends to everyone. We specifically ask and encourage candidates to take this opportunity to tell us a little more about themselves in a non-resume format.
- Having read tens of thousands of resumes, I’ve had the privilege of reading some really brilliant and/or witty cover letters that usually at least get that candidate in the door.
- I read the cover letter. The cover letter should illustrate beyond the resume how the candidate meets the qualifications for the position.
- I am in agreement with many others on cut and pasted cover letters. Why bother? In fact often receive cut and paste jobs where they forget to update company or position name. In this case the applicant would have been better off without a cover letter.
- I do scan through them but find often that covering letters, especially with applications from online job boards, are just too vague and irrelevant. On the flip side they can be a good insight into the skills and abilities of a person and how keen they are on the role, I have worked with many consultants who skip reading them totally and miss key information.
- I always do, a good motivation letter tells a lot about your candidate. It’s great to see them put in some efforts in their procedure (people applying for 20 jobs at the same time and don’t even remember your company won’t invest that much), it also gives you a good first impression on some skills. Conclusion: cover letters are great!
- I absolutely read cover letters! It gives me another opportunity to learn about the candidate and see if I can gage a best fit position. I look less highly on those who do not submit one.
- A cover letter to the resume is always to the first impression on the resume as it specifies the significance and the interest of the applicant. However mis-representation of the recipient is a big no!! I think most professionals read them.
- I try to read as many cover letters as possible. I like to see the candidates writing style, and their attention to detail. It really is a good way of weeding out candidates that are not a proper fit for the position.
- Unfortunately with the volume of apps reading through each cover letter is not possible. However before short listing candidates, and where writing is considered an essential part of the position I will at that time go through their letter.
- I am a huge believe in proven experience, if I can’t see that experience on a resume then a cover letter no matter how crisp and clean is will not sway me.
Well there you have it! Looks like savvy job seekers always include a cover letter. If you didn’t send a thank you note to your interviewers afterwards… there is still time.
Douglas Pilarski is President of Sawyer TMS, a retained executive search firm. Get his tweets at @SawyerTMS or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.