Job seekers hate writing them and hiring managers get bored reading them, so why are cover letters still necessary? Many wishful thinkers have emphatically declared cover letters dead in recent years, but the fact remains that cover letters still stand between you and many available jobs.

When applying online, the cover letter might be your first opportunity to appeal to a real life human being, but that person still has to read it. An overlooked piece of advice is to consider your audience– not just the hiring manager but the tech they utilize.

ATS Cover Letters Must Be Searchable

The first obstacle for your cover letter might be getting past a bot that won’t be moved by your elegant prose or inspiring story.

Most larger companies utilize software that creates a searchable database of job applicants. Rather than manually reading every single resume submitted, hiring managers shrink their pool of applicants by searching the database for specific skills and keywords. Any applicant without one of those keywords might be eliminated by the program sight unseen.

Based on Jobscan’s research, Taleo, the most-used applicant tracking system out there, treats cover letters as searchable text just like the resume. Other application processes require the applicant to tack their letter to the end of their resume document. In these scenarios, your letter could be key to surviving the first round of cuts before it’s ever even seen by human eyes.

Get past the robots

Targeted Keywords Boost Searchability

Hiring managers identify their best candidates and narrow down their pool of applicants by searching with exact keyword combinations found in the job description. Jobscan recommends tailoring your resume to the job description. Your cover letter deserves the same treatment.

Ensuring that your cover letter contains key skills from the job description is especially important if you’re transitioning careers. If job-critical skills weren’t part of your past work experience, your cover letter must pick up the slack. Demonstrating knowledge of the missing skills and highlighting non-professional experience in your letter can help you get past the filters and show the hiring manager that you’re qualified for the job.

Test Scan Your Cover Letter

In addition to unlimited resume scans, Jobscan Premium users also receive unlimited cover letter scans. The scan makes sure your cover letter is the optimal length, contains contact information and measurable results, and doesn’t have any cliche buzz words. Perhaps most importantly, the report generates a list of hard and soft skills (keywords) found in job listing that should be featured in your cover letter.

Jobscan Cover Letter Optimization Report

Users can find out where their cover letters are falling short free for one month.

Write a Great Cover Letter

Optimizing your cover letter with keywords will help you survive the hiring manager’s filters but it’s just one part of the equation. You still need to write something that will win over the hiring manager once they finally read it. Jobscan’s Learning Center features cover letter quick tips and in-depth guides to point you in the right direction.