27 June 2017
The dinosaur that is the cover letter

Cover letters have had their day. They are extinct – apparently. Recruiters and hiring managers have admitted in the past that they don’t have time to read them – the fact is that hiring managers only spend six seconds scanning your CV. Unfortunately, the cover letter used to be the perfect place to personalise your pitch and highlight information to explain why you are a suitable fit for the role. The point of a cover letter was to build a bridge between yourself and the hiring manager. It shows you have something to say, that you know about the job and are interested in working for the company. To stand out now, applicants need to get creative and change the traditional resume format to help them get noticed.

According to new research from ‘Jobvite’s 2017 Job Seeker Nation Study’ which interviewed 2,200 candidates discovered that fewer than ever are submitting a cover letter along with their CV. The findings showed that 47% of those asked said that they didn’t attach a cover letter alongside their most recent application. Furthermore, only 26% of recruiters “consider cover letters important”.

So, if people aren’t attaching cover letters, what are they doing? Sending cake and flowers to the director? This has been heard of before. No, they are relying on referrals. Our blog last week pointed out the importance of networking and how employers also rely on referrals to find the next perfect fit.

A spokesperson in the Jobvite report commented: “Almost 35% of jobseekers applied to their current or most recent position via referral — especially millennials. Luckily, Jobvite data shows that referred applicants are five times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.”

However, if you choose to send a cover leter, a recent podcast from Slate’s Editor-in-Chief Julia Turner, explained how to best use them in a constructive way.

“An effective cover letter should be an argument for how the set of experiences you’ve had up to this point in your career make you the perfect candidate for the job,” she said.

“It should reveal your understanding of the place you’re trying to work at and a set of beliefs about how the things you’re good at would help that place achieve its goals.”

Last year Jobvite told us the same thing, but on the other foot of recruiters. Jobvite chief people officer Rachel Bitte explained,

“Most companies today recruit online and receive applications through software systems that often don’t include a section for a cover letter,” she says. “The pace at which companies need talent has also grown exponentially, so finding the right person quickly is very important.

“Recruiters who get cover letters say they ignore them. Instead, they want to get to the meat of someone’s background by diving into the resume.”

So, the question is, will you be sending a cover letter when you next apply for a job? Or will you think of something more creative or rely on a friend or family member to refer you?


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