Just a few years ago, cover letters were widely used and were seen as very important. However, in recent years there seems to have been a decrease in the use of cover letters. Although many companies still ask for a cover letter with applications, some have stopped asking for it altogether.
Cover letters have been dropped from modern applications for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that many companies now have automated resume screening systems. These systems search through applicants by keywords and pull out the ones most likely to fit the job description. While it is very beneficial for companies, it also means that if an applicant is not in the top picks, there is a very high chance that they will never be looked at.
This is not to say that cover letters have become completely obsolete. For some positions, they are still necessary, and for others, it is a good idea to include one. Your cover letter should reflect the position you’re applying for. It should be long enough to convince the employer that you are the person they need, but short enough that it can fit easily on one page. If you are applying for a specific position, you should follow the instructions of the employer and write a cover letter that supports your application with information not included in your resume.
A cover letter is a perfect way to:
Explain your motivation to join the company. An employer wants to hire someone who can make a positive impact on the company. They want someone who’s passionate about the mission of the company and believes in what they do. It’s important for them to find the best fit. Hiring someone who doesn’t match up well with the company can be a time-consuming, costly process.
Highlight personal achievements. The best way to make yourself stand out from the crowd is to highlight what makes you special as an individual, whether it be a degree from a prestigious university or previous work experience with other companies.
Explain a career change. While your resume provides a great summary of your experience, it may not be very good at explaining changes in your career path. You may have started out working in retail and changed your focus to pursue a career in healthcare. A cover letter lets you explain why you are making the change and how you believe your skills transfer to your new profession.
Finding a rewarding position in the new world of applicant tracking systems can be daunting. While you may be tempted to spend all of your time improving your keyword selections, keep in mind that you only need to find one job. A cover letter may be one of the only ways you can differentiate yourself in a competitive market.