Ah, the dreaded cover letter. I’m not going to use this post to defend or debate one. But what I AM going to tell you is that if you spent the time writing one, it could very easily get overlooked. EVEN if the company required it. Why is that?
Take note of this very important detail:
When you apply through a jobsite and are asked to upload your resume and cover letter, are you uploading two separate files, or one file that includes both documents?
Here’s what happens in the company’s recruiting system when you upload two separate files. First, you and 100 other people applied to this job, meaning there could very easily be 200 files for the recruiter to open and read through. Chances are the recruiter is going to go straight to the resume since that’s been the standard way to represent oneself.
Then, the recruiter may or may not also open, read, and save your cover letter to their files. And even if they do, your cover letter might not get submitted to the hiring manager with the resume. Inadvertently, due to the sheer volume of files.
If you wrote a kickass cover letter straight from your heart, then make sure you do this one simple thing:
Save your cover letter and resume into ONE pdf file and title it, “[your name] Resume & Cover Letter”. In that order. Then, in the pdf file, make page 1 your cover letter and page 2 your resume.
Ok, but that’s flip-flopped, you say. Yes. Intentionally.
First, the recruiter’s eyes will automatically be drawn to the filename's first word, “Resume.” That’s what they really want to see. Then, upon opening the file, the recruiter’s eyes will go to page one, which happens to be your cover letter. This will force them to at least take a glance through your letter while they scroll through to page two, your resume.
What if the company requires two separate file uploads on the application site? Still, do the above. Merge both cover letter and resume into one file like I advised above, then upload into the "Resume" upload box. Then upload your cover letter into the "Cover Letter" upload box, if this is required. So your cover letter is in theory uploaded twice? Big deal. Doing this will guarantee that both documents you worked so hard on will make their way through the recruiter’s review AND the hiring team's review, no matter what.
Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose!