A survey conducted by a popular US jobs board has revealed that 74% of recruiters don’t consider cover letters important. Apparently, recruiters are too busy and it takes too long to wade through wordy documents to find out more about the candidate, so they don't even read them.
Jobvite’s Chief People Officer Rachel Bitte says that, instead, recruiters browse candidates’ social media pages to get an idea of cultural fit, and this is where they would rather spend their time. Recruiters are also using quicker, more efficient methods to source candidates, such as automated applicant tracking systems and targeted candidate searches on jobs boards.
Interestingly, the survey also revealed that almost half of job seekers don’t submit cover letters anyway!
What’s the point of a cover letter?
The original purpose of a cover letter was to add some detail and personality to a straightforward, short CV. It is also a chance to show that you have some writing skills and can communicate well. It’s a great way to introduce yourself and to highlight some key information that might not shine in the short form of the CV.
So, what to do if recruiters aren’t reading cover letters?
1. Make sure your CV includes all your key skills that align to the role you’re applying to. Here are some CV templates that will help you fit everything in: Free downloadable CV templates for South African job seekers
2. Carefully curate your social media presence to represent a professional as well as personal image of yourself. “When it’s done right, it can showcase your creative skills, personality and ability to build a network,” Bitte says. For ideas, check out our #careerpride series on Instagram.
3. Complete your full profile on every jobs board you join, to ensure your account will be found by browsing recruiters. Make sure to include your education, your job history and your skills, and check back in regularly to keep your account active and updated.
What successful job seekers say:
“I was just job hunting the last two months and every single employer wanted a cover letter. I would 100% include one...if nothing else, like said above, it may set you apart. It’s a great chance to highlight some points of your past career or just something personal about yourself that would help get the job.” – Chelsea
“It really depends on the field. In some, the cover letter matters a lot. It could get you the interview or get you rejected. We don’t seriously consider anyone who phones it in, has typos, or doesn’t mention our company specifically.” – Rubina
“If 47% of people aren't doing an easy, free thing that could potentially set them apart in the interview process, I am definitely doing that thing. While it might not keep you from getting the job, it could be the reason that you do get the job. In my experience, I have been told that my cover letter was the reason I was given an interview twice. Those two interviews led to life changing jobs for me.” – Sydney
At Careers24 we recommend that you keep applying with a well thought out cover letter attached to every application (it could still be the difference between landing an interview and not). Learn how to create one that will stand out and get you noticed: Cover Letter Advice
What do you think? Will you keep writing cover letters?