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Do Recruiters Still Read Cover Letters in 2024?

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Submitting a cover letter, even if "not read" by the hiring manager, enhances your distinction among candidates.

Congratulations on discovering a job that appears to be a suitable match, and for investing effort in tailoring a bespoke resume for the position.

Yet, must you invest additional time in composing a cover letter? Do recruiters still read cover letters?

The concise responses are “yes” and “occasionally.” Nevertheless, it is the instances labeled as “occasionally” that could sustain your prospects of securing an interview, assuming all other factors remain constant.

To commence, understanding particular scenarios necessitating a cover letter is advantageous.

When are cover letters necessary?

A cover letter is essential in four specific scenarios:

  1. When you’re directly applying to a person within the company, bypassing the general application system.
  1.  If someone has referred you for the position, highlight this in your cover letter.
  1. When the job application explicitly requests a cover letter.
  1. If the employer’s hiring manager or recruiter specifically requests one.

However, even if your situation doesn’t fit these criteria, remember your mother’s advice about having an extra of what you need.

Applying the same principle, always submit a cover letter; it’s preferable to have one that may not be read than risk a recruiter or hiring manager seeking one that isn’t provided.

Understanding the ways a cover letter helps you stand out provides further motivation for its inclusion in your application.

Why is a cover letter crucial in securing a job?

It serves as a deciding factor

To be transparent, in my role as a recruiter, I seldom delved into cover letters—except when faced with two equally qualified candidates, necessitating a distinguishing element, or when intrigued by a candidate whose resume lacked sufficient information.

It demonstrates your dedication to the position

Crafting a cover letter, even when not explicitly required, demonstrates your commitment to the position.

It signifies your willingness to invest additional time and effort to convey your sincere interest in the job.

Recent CareerBuilder studies support this, revealing that 53 percent of employers consider a resume alone insufficient for notice. Additionally, 49 percent of HR managers emphasize that a cover letter is the second-most effective method to draw attention to your resume, trailing behind customizing the resume for the specific job.

These findings hold true across various employment types, including full-time, part-time, and internship opportunities.

It can explain employment gaps and career transitions

Limiting your resume to two pages prevents you from elucidating employment gaps or justifying career transitions.

The cover letter serves the purpose of providing insight into the reasons behind these gaps or shifts, ensuring that hiring managers can refer to it for a clearer understanding rather than dismissing your resume outright.

At small firms, it wields significant influence

Given the limited scale of their hiring, these companies tend to scrutinize cover letters carefully as their hiring managers seek a deeper understanding of each candidate.

It reveals aspects of your character

A cover letter provides an opportunity for a recruiter or hiring manager to glimpse into your personality, evaluating your compatibility with their company culture.

Ensure you present your personality in a manner that is both effective and professional.

Does anyone actually read cover letters?

As previously stated, the optimal response is ‘occasionally,’ with the outcome varying based on the respondent.

CEOMichaelHR’s expert, Debbie Wright, provides an illustrative instance:

In line with the 2016 Recruiter Nation Report from recruitment software provider Jobvite, 74 percent of recruiters deem cover letters unimportant in their hiring decisions. Conversely, a survey by recruitment firm Robert Half reveals that 90 percent of executives perceive cover letters as indispensable in evaluating candidates.”

The paradox lies in the fact that, despite the potential neglect of cover letters, most hiring managers consistently desire them.

Your advantage lies in the reality that a cover letter, whether read or not, invariably leaves a positive impression.

Moreover, if your prospective job’s hiring manager is inclined to read a cover letter, having one becomes crucial — entrusting your future career to chance is too significant.

What comprises a strong cover letter?

Crafting a impactful cover letter is a standalone subject, yet here’s the fundamental content to incorporate:

  • Introduce yourself and specify your awareness of the job.
  • Demonstrate how you can contribute to the company.
  • Propose a resolution for a current company challenge.
  • Share your contact details and express availability for an interview.

Final Thoughts

Crafting cover letters demands time and effort; the temptation to skip them altogether is real, but resist.

Whether you submit online or via email, merely adding a cover letter is sufficiently noteworthy for employers. Even if unread, the worth of a cover letter lies in its potential to enhance your chances of securing the job.

Looking to land that dream job? Our CEOMichaelHR Cover Letter Writing Service is here to ease the burden. Let us transform your qualifications into a compelling narrative that captures employers’ attention. Your success starts with a standout cover letter – trust us to make it happen.


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