Do hiring managers read cover letters? Sometimes.
The big problem is that you never know when the cover letter (which you spent so much time customizing) is going to see daylight. The hard truth is that sometimes your letter won’t be read. Then again, your cover might be the first thing that the hiring manager does read. You just never know.
My advice is to hedge your bets and send in a cover letter. Every time. No arguments and no whining! Below are a few trade secrets that I use to set apart my clients from the rest of the pack.
Do your research and address the letter directly to the hiring manager. Sometimes it isn’t easy to uncover the name, but try anyway. You might have to do some serious research on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Google, or even have to call the company. If that fails, then try to find who heads the department you are applying for and address the letter to them.
Transfer language from the job posting. The more words you share in common with the job ad, the higher you will be ranked by the automated software reading your resume. It shows that you have skills and experiences in common with the company and will help you stand out as a candidate that really “gets” the company’s culture.
Be creative with the first sentence. How many resumes does the hiring manager see that start out with “I am writing in response to the account manager position I saw advertised on LinkedIn”? Boring. When I was hiring for my department, that line caused me to immediately put the resume aside and pick up the next one. Instead, be creative and don’t be afraid to say something that grabs attention.
Conclude with a call-to-action. This is probably the most important part of writing a cover letter (assuming that you have won the hiring manager’s attention enough for them to get all the way to bottom). Be specific in how you will follow up and then don’t drop the ball! Keep your word and show that you have follow through.
I love to hear creative opening lines, so if you have a good one please post it below.