En Route: A Career Blog

Hiring Managers Speak Out on Cover Letters

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: January 4, 2013 at 8:41 am

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, conducted a survey on cover letters with 582 of those surveyed responding. The findings are important for job seekers.

cover letter stack

Should You Include a Cover Letter with Your Resume?

  • 67% of candidates are reported to have included a cover letter with their resumes. In other words, a sizable majority.
  • While 70% of the survey respondents stated they would consider an applicant for a vacant position, even if that individual applied without a cover letter, another 28% said they would only do so at times, while the remaining 2% said they would not. Therefore 30% do consider a cover letter when judging a candidate.

Even though 30% might not seem like a lot, if those individuals have outstanding cover letters, such as the T-style format (see below), they will go to the head of the stack.

How Much Time is Afforded Your Cover Letter?
  • 83% of survey respondents reported that they spent one minute – or less – in reading an applicant’s cover letter.
  • 15% stated they would spend more than a minute.
 Not a lot of time. Additionally:
  • The time grows shorter as the firm grows larger. 52% of companies with staffs of 250 or more will spend, at most, 30 seconds reviewing a cover letter.

Is It Possible to Make Your Cover Letter Outstanding Enough to Get Noticed?


You do that by painting yourself as the perfect candidate for the position. This includes listing several accomplishments, quantified with percentages of improvement, dollar figures for money saved/earned, and time periods in which you achieved this. That’s the kind of data a hiring manager will take the time to read.

What’s a T-style Cover Letter?

One of the best cover letter formats is the T-style. This design provides a two-column table in the center of the letter. You’d title the left-hand column “You Seek” or “Your Requirements”. The right-hand column would be titled “I Have” or “My Skills”. In other words, you’re matching what the employer wants with your knowledge and abilities.

Not only is this style visually arresting, it gets to the point quickly. That you are the perfect individual for the position.

In many ways a T-style letter goes even further than your resume ever could in dovetailing what you can do to what the employer wants.

A T-style letter can be found at this link.


The certified writers at ResumeEdge are skilled in writing interview-winning cover letters, resumes, and LinkedIn Profiles for job seekers in 40+ industries. We have helped tens of thousands of individuals reach their career goals.


Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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