The cover letter used to be a critical part of the resume because it allowed for job applicants to customize their skills and abilities for specific companies.

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But, with advances in technology and nearly 1,000 competitors for every advertised job, employers are barely taking the time to read cover letters.

That's according to Phil Rosenberg, President of reCareered.com, an online hub for job search advice, who recently surveyed over 2,000 hiring managers, HR reps and recruiters.

Up to 90% of Employers Ignore Cover Letters

"It comes down to a combination of changes in technology, human behavior and the job market in general. Most resumes are delivered digitally these days and they are infinitely customizable. Plus companies have human resource systems that can key word search resumes for specific criteria," said Rosenberg.

"While some companies, about three percent, still like seeing a cover letter, I found that ninety percent of potential employers ignored it. Meanwhile, ninety-seven percent made a decision on whether to interview or not based on the resume alone."

"Forget your cover letter, but heavily customize your resume because if it's not on your resume it doesn't exist," said Rosenberg. "Companies have built a human resource process that heavily favors candidates who put extreme customization into their resume. The decision on whether to give you an interview is rarely done on paper now. So, when it comes to the length of your resume, it's not critical anymore. In fact, if you send in a one page resume and you're not just out of school, you can't possibly have enough words on the resume giving you a chance to be able to match the seven to ten criteria that the company is looking for."

The average employer or recruiter makes a decision in fifteen seconds or less as to whether to give a candidate an interview or not and in that length of time, they can't even read two documents," said Rosenberg. "So, sending a cover letter is a distraction in 97 percent of your audience. So, it's not just a waste of time. It can actually hurt you."