The concept of a cover letter is out dated. Cover letters are old-fashioned, badly written and, more often than not, completely redundant.
The truth is that the cover letter has died a slow, painful death in recent years. It is no longer the vitally important first interaction with a prospective employer.
It is no longer used to assess a candidate’s suitability for a position. In this day and age, it is almost always a complete waste of time writing one in the first place.
If you are a candidate in today’s job market, you are involved in a highly robust and extremely competitive process from the get go. A process that now involves all forms of social media as a potential differentiator.
If you submit your CV to a recruitment agency via an online job board, the chances are that the cover letter you’ve just spent the last hour writing won’t even be opened!
Now, I know that this may shock some of the more traditional of you but here’s the thing: TIMES HAVE CHANGED! Move on.
Having spent the past decade working in recruitment, I know that the main reason that cover letters are overlooked by agencies is a lack of time. Any agency recruiter worth their salt has to manage their time effectively.
A recruiter’s role is mostly activity based and each day comprises of dozens of phone calls, client meetings and candidate interviews.
Think of it in terms of numbers. Here’s a basic example…
I am an agency recruiter and I am working on 10 roles at any one time. I receive an average of 100 responses to each advert, so suddenly we have 1000 candidates in total that have applied for my open roles.
Each candidate has to be screened against the job requirements and each candidate must have their CV read to do this. If each of those candidates also writes a cover letter this whole exercise becomes extremely time consuming.
Now with the limited time I have in each day, and with the information I have qualified from the client, I need to make a quick judgement call on which candidates are suitable for each position. The CV is of paramount importance here.
The CV should be easy to read, be simple for me to pick out the key achievements for each role and should speak to the key requirements of the role the candidate is applying for. Check out my post on how to write a great CV here.
There should never be an instance where you would include something important in the cover letter that is not included as part of your CV. Added to that, there should never be an instance where a cover letter takes the place of a poorly written CV.
Instead of writing a cover letter, candidates should instead be spending that time tailoring their CV to the requirements of the role. This should be done for every role the candidate applies for.
There are exceptions, of course. If you are applying to a government department, you will probably be asked to write what is called a ‘statement of suitability’ which is a cover letter that addresses the core competencies of the role.
Some direct employers will also ask specifically for a cover letter as part of your application, however, this is becoming extremely rare. The cover letter is still common in graduate recruitment and there are, of course, good reasons for that.
For most candidates, however, the simple act of tailoring your CV should replace the need for a cover letter.
The purpose of tailoring your CV is to make it extremely easy for the person doing the screening to pick out your CV as a great fit for the requirements of the role. Its main purpose is also to avoid ambiguity at all costs.
The success rate of a job applicant would increase exponentially if they were to forget about the cover letter altogether and, instead, focus their time and energy on tailoring their CV to the job requirements.
What do you think about Cover Letters? Are they a waste of time or are they absolutely essential? Leave a comment below…