Your Cover Letter Matters. A Lot.

New research shows that a tailored cover letter can yield more interviews than a generic one

Job application season is right around the corner. That means an onslaught of recent college grads hustling from interview to interview, and hiring managers working long hours to accommodate make sure they select just the right employees to fill out their openings. But with so many job applications going through online systems meant to weed out unqualified candidates, it’s all too easy to get lost in the mix. So actually will set you apart and help land you that gig?

Three words: Your. Cover. Letter. That’s right, applicants that present a tailored-to-the-position cover letter get 50% more interviews than applicants that don’t according to a new study from resumego.com. The study also shows that 81% say they value ones that are written for the position, rather than clearly generic.

What You Need To Include

So how do you write the perfect letter? It’s easy to get lost in the sauce with so much job application information living on the Internet, but Peter Yang, CEO of ResumeGo and Allison Cheston, Career Advisor, walked us through it. In any cover letter, it is critical to include the following:

  • A reference to the job description for which you’re applying: This will let the hiring manager know you actually read through the job posting and are rightfully applying.
  • An emphasis on required skills and job responsibilities and how you’ll fulfill those roles: This tells the HR department that you align with the listing and will be ready to jump into a new position without having to waste time with too much training.
  • An explanation of why you’re is interested in the job: If a recruiter understands why you want the job, they might be more inclined to give you a chance, especially over someone else who submits a boring, form cover letter.
  • How your career goals align with the job to which you’re applying: Hustle is everything, so a goal-oriented candidate is likely to work hard to get the job done because it will not only benefit the company, but their own narrative, too.
  • Details about your personal experience: In a few compelling sentences, show that you know how to perform this job well.
  • Correct grammar and spelling: Double, triple, and quadruple check that there are no typos or grammatical errors.
  • By adding these elements, your cover letter will be considered “tailored.” It is okay to work from a shell, Yang says, as long as you change it to include this information for each specific application submitted.

    Your Letter Tells The Story That’s Not In Your Resume

    There’s only so much that you can fit on a one-page resume (and yes, with few exceptions — like careers that are decades in the making — your resume should be a single page.) Your cover letter, on the other hand, can serve as a storytelling platform. “Providing a backstory of yourself and connecting it with how this ultimately led you to apply to the job at hand can be an effective way of differentiating yourself from other applicants,” Yang says.

    PS: Yes, They Do Get Read

    Let go of whatever you’ve heard about cover letters in the past, because, yes, they’re extremely important to any job-seeker’s application, and no, hiring managers do not completely ignore them. In fact, the study showed that 87% of recruiters do read your cover letters. That’s why Yang says that the only time you shouldn’t send in a cover letter is when the application doesn’t ask for one. As Cheston says, “it is your secret weapon to help get you through the door and differentiate you from other candidates.”

    With Rebecca Cohen

    Jean Chatzky

    Jean Chatzky