Here’s an unscientific but VERY interesting poll of Boston area recruiters on the topic of cover letters… this was collected and compiled by Lanning Levine, a local human resources executive and consultant. (The entire summary below is his, as well.) Thought I’d pass along…

Cover Letter Poll

I hope you all agree with me that these are very interesting results:

1.Do recruiters read resumes? 40% said YES, 20% said NO, 25% said sometimes, 10% said they skim, and 5% did not comment

2.Do hiring managers read cover letters? 40% said YES, 50 said NO, 5% said yes, and 5% did not comment

3.Which do you read/look at first? 75% said they read the resume first, 25% said they read the cover letter first

4.Do you tear off and throw away the cover letter? 90% said NO, 10% YES

The results are interesting. I found them very insightful. Most of all, that we are a group of very respectful professionals.

Even if we do not read or pass the cover letter on, 90% of us keep the cover letter with the resume.

Most read or skim the resume first. For this who did not read the cover letter first, most commented that if the resume gave interest, they went back and read the cover letter and very carefully with intent.

It seems be a draw on whether the managers read them or not.

5. Are there specific jobs (not fields) where the cover letter does or does not matter.

For those who commented, the comments are consistent, as follows.

If the role or function requires communication, having the cover letter, and a good one, not only matters, it is a MUST HAVE for the door to open. Quality determines if it is a deal maker or deal breaker.

As a rule, for techie jobs, non-management jobs, non-exempt jobs, a brief good cover letter neither help nor hurt the applicant.

In short, it seems that even in the technology filled new millennium, resumes are generally read first, but cover letters do matter, for those who are looking for them. Seems it cannot hurt to send it.