Cover Letters: Do Recruiters Actually Read Them?

A cover letter is an opportunity to connect with the hiring manager. It is your opportunity to make them want to meet you over the many other CVs they have in their inbox.

Some say that employers don’t value them, but people must remember that the hiring manager is not just an email address – they are a person. Each has his or her own likes and dislikes and there are many who put a huge amount of value on cover letters.

What most hiring managers seem to agree on is that they do not value cover letters that read something like this:

To whom it may concern,
I am applying for the role of ………
I feel I have the skills you are looking for.
Please see my CV enclosed/attached.
I look forward to hearing from you
Mrs. A Bateman

And yet, so many cover letters that I see are similar to this one. What a wasted opportunity!

10 years ago, when I first started recruiting, this type of cover letter would probably do the job. However, in the current market, people have to ‘up their game’!

In order to make sure your cover letter is exceptional I would advise you follow these steps:

  • Make it Personal – Do your best to find out the name of the hiring manager (even if you have to call the receptionist and ask).
  • State The Position You are Applying For – It’s obvious (I know) but I receive so many applications which say ‘I would like to apply for the role advertised’ and I am often working on more than one.
  • Tell Them Why You Picked Them – If you want an employer to be genuinely interested in you, you need to make them feel that you are genuinely interested in them.
  • Tell Them Why They Should Pick You – Don’t just tell them you are suitable; tell them why you are suitable.
  • Add A Short Quote From a Referee – I graduated with a marketing degree and for three years I studied how advertisers and marketers use positive customer experiences to sell products/services. When I joined the recruitment world, I noticed that we have these and they are called references, but they are used at the end of the sale process!?! Your references/testimonials are your best sales tool, so use them and input a quote from your best one.
  • Tell Them How Much You Want It – Show some passion and use emotive language!

I can promise you that far more employers will value a cover letter than those who won’t, so always include one and make it count. Have you had any success with cover letters? Let us know in the comments below.

By Aimee Bateman

Aimee Bateman worked for some of the world's largest recruitment companies, before setting up her own consultancy. She has helped thousands of people get their dream jobs and has appeared in a number of TV programmes as the 'Recruitment Expert' on BBC 1 and BBC 3. Aimee is also the founder of Careercake.TV which is designed to help people thrive in their careers. Follow Aimee on Twitter @CareercakeTV.