Dear Employers,

Do I really need to write you a letter to let you know how I feel? You’d think after all of the applications, resumes and emails you would get the hint. The truth is that I really do see a future with you, and I can see us making this work! Yet, I can’t shake the feeling that all of this writing you make me do just isn’t right. What’s the point of a cover letter anyway?!

Sincerely,

One Exhausted Applicant

For job seekers, the path to new career opportunities can feel like a never-ending maze littered with new requirements around every corner. After taking the time to fill out an application and submit a resume, seeing that little box at the bottom of the page that says, “Attach Cover Letter” can be deflating. After all, what more could anyone really need to know after all of that?

This all begs the question: Do cover letters still matter?

The short answer is: Yes! 

Required or Optional, They Still Matter 

For starters, some companies do require cover letters for all applicants. According to recent research from The Ladders,  48 percent of companies they listed as tech giants, 55 percent of medium-sized companies and 65 percent of fast-growing startups required cover letters during the application process. While you cannot control what happens to your cover letter once it hits a recruiter’s desk, having one ready to go remains a barrier for entry for applicants in quite a bit of companies today. 

In other instances, while a cover letter may not be mandatory, submitting one can still make an impact. For example, you might be referred into a role by someone you know. Explaining your relationship in the longer format provided by a cover letter can help to tell the story and form a stronger connection in the mind of the reader. This can also be a helpful way to get a foothold at a company you’re interested in, but that may not be hiring at this moment. 

Long story short, while you might not always need a cover letter, it’s a good idea to have one ready. Here are three reasons to keep writing cover letters:

It Turns Your Career Into a Story 

Your resume distills your career down to its most essential elements, which is extremely necessary during the hiring process. However, a cover letter lets you go beyond the resume to tell the story between the bullet points. This can be a great way to explain gaps in employment and infuse personality into your most important career moments. Even if you don’t submit a cover letter to every opportunity, just the practice of writing one out can help job seekers prepare for interview day. The act of writing a cover letter forces you to think of your career as a story, complete with a beginning, middle and vision for the future. 

It Brings Employer and Job Candidate Values Together

Resumes need to be precise. They’re edited and re-edited, then infused with ATS-friendly keywords and always updated with job descriptions in mind. This is all in an effort for them to be seen, reviewed and selected in an extremely short amount of time. What’s often lost in this process, however, are the things that go deeper. While a resume shows the work you have done, a cover letter can explain the meaning of that work. It can also take that next step of connecting your values with your potential employer’s values. This is an opportunity to put your research about the company to work, explaining how you directly align with their core purpose and culture as an organization. 

It’s All About Action

Beyond, “here’s what I’ve done,” cover letters are a great tool for telling an employer, “Here’s what I can do for you.” A resume may highlight your potential, but this is a chance to make your potential impact explicit. Painting a clear picture of the future of the company with you as a part of the team is extremely important. While an interview is a fantastic opportunity to lay out your plans, a cover letter can go a long way towards getting your foot in the door in the first place. 

Above all, cover letters still matter because they help job seekers to form more personal connections with employers than they ever could with a resume alone. Whether it’s necessary to complete your application or just a way to refine the story of your career, keep writing!