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Cover letter survey results - who sends them, how often, and why?

Recently WiserUTips surveyed job seekers about sending cover letters. Here are the results -- 

When asked, "How often do you include a cover letter when given the option to include one?", 53% of respondents said they always include a cover letter, while just 33% never include one. What this result tells you is that to compete against other applicants, include a cover letter or your competitors will look like they worked harder than you to apply. 

When asked, "How helpful do you believe including a cover letter is in being considered for a position?," nearly 75% of respondents either said that including a cover letter is either extremely helpful or somewhat helpful in their being considered for a position. No one surveyed thought that including a cover letter was somewhat or extremely hurtful. This tells you that including a cover letter is worth doing if you do it well.

When asked, "Which elements or information do you typically include in your cover letter?" Explaining the reasons why you are qualified for the job was the number one answer. People also said that they usually include a simple sentence explaining which job title that they seek and why they are right for the position. Mentioning what you know about the company and listing your contact information were also frequently included. These results tell you that it might be worthwhile to include more than a simple sentence, but additional elements to impress employers.   

When asked why they include a cover letter, respondents replied in a variety of ways, including:
  • To clarify interest in the company and position.
  • To stand out
  • To show serious interest in the job.
  • To improve your chances of getting the interview.
  • To showcase your credentials against the job requirements. 
  • To create a personal connection.
  • To explain why you're looking for a career move.
  • To provide more information.
  • To personalize your application.
  • To tell your story in a creative way.
  • To highlight why you are a perfect fit for the job.
  • To express the value that you offer.
  • To show off your writing skills. 
  • Because it's required even though some people say it is not.
  • To overcome the fear of being overlooked.
  • To clarify details about your resume.

When asked why they don't include a cover letter, respondents revealed the following:
  • Because I have never written a cover letter before.
  • Because it's a waste of time.
  • Sometimes it is not appropriate to include one so I don't. For example, a recruiter may want me to send them my resume without a cover letter
  • The application site doesn't allow for a separate cover letter document.
  • I don't include one when I don't think it will make a difference. Sometimes applying feels like a numbers game and writing a letter can slow that down.

The bottom line: Cover letters can be helpful so take the time to write a strong one when you apply for jobs. -- Kathy

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