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.
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…
The Cockroach Theory is a speech on personal development by Sundar Pichai who was announced as the new CEO of Google on August 10th 2015.
“At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.
She started screaming out of fear.
With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.
Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.
The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.
Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.
The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.
In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.
The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behaviour of the cockroach on his shirt.
When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.
Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behaviour?
If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?
He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.
It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.
I realised that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.
It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.
More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.
Lessons learnt from the story: “Do not react in life. Always respond.”
The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.
Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of, just and right to save a situation from going out of hands, to avoid cracks in relationship, to avoid taking decisions in anger, anxiety, stress or hurry.”
Easier said than done if you ask me! I am guilty of reacting in life, sometimes too quickly!