Are Cover Letters Still Relevant Today?

Cover letters are invaluable to some recruiters while others have very little use for them. For job applicants, however, writing them is a daunting task. That’s because cover letters are somewhat dull and mechanical. They require a lot of effort for a candidate to strike the right balance of data-backed performance statements, brevity and personality. But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself: Are they worth all the trouble?

Research suggests that unlike in the past, employers are relying less on cover letters. A recent study by addisongroup.com revealed that 63% of recruiters found them to be of low importance; while another study by jobvite.com found that only 18% of hiring managers found them to be an important part of a job application.

As the role of technology continues to increase in the job application and screening processes, should hiring managers and recruiters still ask for cover letters from job applicants?

Cover letters are still used by some talent professionals

Cover letters provide a window into the candidate’s creativity, personality as well as their attention to detail. For this reason, some recruiters still find them to be invaluable vetting tools. For roles requiring exceptional writing skills, for instance, cover letters can provide very useful information to help evaluate candidates.

With an ever increasing emphasis on hiring for cultural fit, cover letters are also proving useful as they provide finer details that cannot be easily gleaned from a candidate’s resume. This can help to speed up the candidate selection process for vacant positions.

Cover letters also demonstrate a candidate’s ability to follow instructions, something which a number of managers rely on to filter through applicants, only qualifying those that meet the minimum requirement and provide answers to specific questions included in the job advertisement.

Technology is changing the role of cover letters in hiring

The task of matching the right candidates with the right jobs is increasingly becoming automated with a wealth of candidate information readily available online. For this reason, many companies believe that they no longer require cover letters.

Nowadays there are simpler ways of getting more information about a candidate – often with more detail and nuance. Checking a candidate’s digital presence through social media profiles, online portfolios, personal blogs, and websites can provide a wealth of information for recruiters negating the need for cover letters.

With online applications quickly becoming the new norm, more organisations are prioritising convenience and speed to attract top talent. By asking for cover letters, the time to apply is significantly increased causing top candidates to abandon your online recruiting process before completion. This is the reason more and more companies are excluding cover letters in their online application processes or making them optional.

So, do you still need cover letters?

The answer is a bit complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.” While cover letters are becoming less valuable in the modern day as the use of technology continues to streamline the recruiting process, you’ll still need to evaluate their need in your company’s recruitment process to find out whether they are useful to you or just a roadblock for more efficient hiring.