Yes, Cover Letters Still Matter

Fortune’s article
on the
100 best companies to work for
includes mini interviews with a number of HR
managers, many of which provide a peek into the hiring processes of some of the
world’s most prestigious organizations, and insights into how those involved
approach the task of evaluating all those candidates on the way to a hire.

Lynn Franklyn, HR
manager for the supermarket chain Wegmans, had an interesting reply when asked
what she looks for first.

“I usually go right for the
cover letter, because resumes are all very similar. I look for a candidate to
engage me and to really get a glimpse of who that person is. What do they know
about us as an organization? Can they clearly define how their values and their
skill set match up to what we offer as an organization?”

True, Wegmans isn’t a tech company, but it’s famed for its
logistics operation. It’s interesting to note the HR manager there keys in on
the cover letter – especially when we hear from a lot of job seekers who’ve
been advised to “not worry” about writing one.

While there are certainly aberrations – some recruiters don’t
want them, and professionals with extensive contacts might not need them – most
candidates benefit greatly from using a cover letter, especially when applying
directly to the company. If someone disagrees, do your research. Check with
accredited experts and read interviews with hirers. I’ve seen good cover
letters expedite searches hundreds of times. But don’t take my word for it – take
Ms. Franklyn’s.

— Warren Simons