Cover letters can be such a pain in the neck to write—it’s OK to just skip it isn’t it?  Does the hiring manager or HR department REALLY read them?

As a hiring manager, I have to admit that I did read each and every one of them.

They’re important for several reasons.

#1: As a hiring manager, if I got a resume without a cover letter it indicates a lack of effort on the part of the applicant.  Back when I was looking for jobs, I would lie on the couch and randomly hit “Submit Now” to anything that looked remotely interesting on  Would I have been thrilled if I actually got an interview?  YES!  Did I clearly demonstrate my interest to an employer by not including a cover letter?  NO!  Because I’ve been there (and many employers have too), I know how easy it is to just hit that send button and forward a resume without putting much thought or effort into it.  Show them that you care enough to write a cover letter.

#2:  Cover letters give you a chance to further explain some very relevant points on your resume.  Suppose that for three out of your last six positions, you worked primarily with a specific accounting program, and in one case even convinced the company you worked for that they should purchase it.  If you see that the job you’re applying for calls for someone with extensive experience with that software, indicating that upfront in your cover letter will make it more obvious to an employer than just relying on them to find it in your resume.

#3:  Cover letters let you clearly make the connection between what they are looking for, and what you are able to provide.  You can even make two columns in your cover letter—one that is labeled “Your Requirements” the other “My Relevant Experience”, and then do a point by point comparison.

Think of cover letters as another opportunity to make that connection with a potential employer.  When you’re clamoring for their attention, you need to use every trick in your arsenal to your advantage.