How Much Does Your Cover Letter Really Matter?

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

Job applicants spend countless hours putting the finishing touches on their cover letter during the job search, but according to a 2015 survey by software company Jobvite, these efforts may be in vain. The survey revealed that 63 percent of respondents deemed an introductory letter as the least important aspect of evaluating job candidates, which leaves applicants playing the guessing game when it comes to preparing application materials.

Jobvite reports that 87 percent of respondents of the survey said that previous work experience, professional references and a cultural fit topped their list of priorities when evaluating potential employees, according to Susan Adams with Forbes. A surge in the use of social networks and online portfolios has changed the way hiring takes place. Hiring managers use Internet searches to investigate candidates and evaluate their personal and professional persona online.

Job candidates are still left guessing whether or not a cover letter is necessary when preparing application materials though. Eliminating the letter may hurt their chances when a hiring manager prefers to view a summary of skills and experience in a personalized format, which is why many candidates choose to include the letter after all.

A cover letter is often an opportunity for you to provide more details about yourself and your professional accomplishments. It can be a helpful tool for employers who desire more information about volunteer work, personality and work ethic when determining if candidates fit within the company culture.

Personalize your cover letter so it appeals to the mission and goals of the company. Note how you are impressed with the company's community efforts, industry accomplishments, and products and services. Highlight how your skills and experience match the desired qualifications detailed on the job description or advertisement. Make it easy for the employer to see that you are an ideal fit for the position by using keywords from the job description and outlining proficiency in desired software and hardware skills or personality traits that define the company's culture.

Detail why you want to work for the company when writing a cover letter. Go beyond phrases such as "I admire your company" or "I've always wanted to work here," and provide specific reasons why the company is a good fit for you. Compliment the employer on successes, and show how you can contribute to future accomplishments as an employee.

An introductory letter may not be important to some employers, but job candidates who eliminate the document may be hurting their chances with hiring managers who find the letter as an important aspect of the job search process. A cover letter personalizes your skills and experience for potential employers and provides opportunities for you to expand upon why you want to work for the company, which is often helpful information for hiring managers.

Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch