All we know is that job seekers absolutely hate writing them. Meanwhile, some recruiters find them useful but others cannot see any significance in them.
Cover letters are often seen as boring, lengthy and lacking in content. Even when the candidate’s profile is presented with the right balance of proven performance and personality, they will always wonder whether it is worth the effort or not.
Researchers have found that employers are becoming less reliant on cover letters. According to some studies, 63% of recruiters have found cover letters to be of low importance, which could be a result in the automation of the application and screening process.
Still important for certain job roles
Cover letters can provide a quick insight to a candidate’s personality, creativity and attention to detail, hence, some hiring manager would still consider it as an important tool. It is more common to require a cover letter when applying for editorial jobs that relies a lot on writing skills. It provides a chance for the candidates to demonstrate their job roles and accomplishments from their context, which could be less obvious in a resume alone.
In the recent emphasis on hiring based on personality and culture, it could be a key decision maker, allowing recruiters to place the most suitable candidate in the available position within the shortest time possible.
Significantly less important than before
Nowadays, technology enables the automation of matching the right candidates to the right jobs. Coupled with the ease of finding the candidates’ information online, cover letters have lost its purpose, instead, hiring managers can check the candidates’ online footprint via their personal websites or blogs, online portfolios and social media profiles.
Speed and convenience are the key priorities for job applicants, this means that requiring a cover letter, which is time-consuming, will put off a lot of top talents. Studies have shown that companies with 45 or more screener questions lose nearly 90% of applicants.
Whether or not to require cover letters
If you think that it is not crucial to the company, then you can consider making it optional.
You can think about the following before you decide:
* Evaluate the value of cover letters to your company and hiring managers. Weigh the added-value of the cover letters to decision making against the loss of potential candidates due to the requirement.
* Opt for other tactics such as written assignments or coding challenges to test for specific skills. Or have short video submissions from applicants to determine the candidate’s personality and analyse whether they will fit into the company culture.
* Edit the job content or description to attract the right applicants, especially those whose experience, achievements, goals and personality align with the role and team.
The importance of cover letters vary for different companies and recruiters. Nevertheless, there is a always a room in organisations for the top talents that would go the extra mile!
Note: This article has been written based on reading and summarising the content in http://blog.indeed.com/2016/10/19/should-you-require-a-cover-letter/ [Credits to the author: Barb Bidan (Vice President of Global Talent Acquisition at Indeed).] Variations in the content of the summary and the original writing may exist due to the interpretation and added comments of the summary writer.