Your Cover Letter Is Hurting You More Than You Think
Forget cover letters.
They’re outdated. Old. Dead.
We’re not exaggerating, here—Jobvite surveyed over 1,400 recruiters on various recruiting concepts, with nearly two-thirds admitting that the cover letter isn’t an important factor when reviewing applications. And according to another survey by The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), a full 98 percent of human resources executives are open to considering candidates who submit their résumés sans cover letter.
But old habits are tough to break, and we expect many applicants still feel leery about submitting their résumés without an opening pitch. It might seem like a good idea to include a cover letter, even if the job listing doesn’t ask for one. But really, you need to tread lightly with this approach. Your cover letter may help your chances, depending on the hiring manager—but it can just as easily hurt you.
Cover Letter Pain Points
Consider just a few of the points detailed in SHRM’s above data. Your cover letter can trip you up in plenty of ways:
- Typos and grammatical errors
- Inconsistencies across letter/résumé
- Hiring professionals may be split on cover letter quality (with a meager 9 percent believing that cover letter quality has increased in recent years!)
- Too much information—recruiters only spend six seconds on each résumé, and the cover letter provides little in the way of actionable data
Plus, there are other factors to consider. Applicant volume is increasing, with more people using technology to apply for vacant roles across the globe. Companies don’t have time to comb through each one by hand, so they rely on their applicant tracking systems and internal résumé databases to sort candidates. These systems contain tools that let hiring managers locate all the data they need on a given candidate without the need for cover letters. Indeed, many online applications don’t even include space for a cover letter upload these days.
So what’s the solution, here? If traditional cover letters are unnecessary, how can candidates add that all-so-important personal touch to their applications?
3 Strategies Better Than a Cover Letter
Get the idea of the cover letter out of your mind. Instead, focus on your most important asset: Your résumé. There are some easy ways you can add some personality to your résumé and give recruiters all the benefits of a personalized cover letter without the drawbacks.
- Write a professional summary: Think of this as a combo of your cover letter’s main pitch and the old “objective” heading we used to include in our résumés. Include two to three brief sentences at the top of your résumé that makes a quick pitch for why you’re a good fit. This will be plenty, trust us.
- List accomplishments in numbers: Your two keywords here: Bulleted-list and data. Under each previous job, create a simple bullet list that highlights your biggest accomplishments, and if possible, include hard statistics on what you improved. The idea here is to say more with less; to give recruiters as much data as they need without making them scan through the heavy blocks of text found in cover letters.
- Include social media info: Social media is the new way for hiring teams to determine a candidate’s culture fit. And you can bet that even if you leave this information out, they’ll find it one way or another. Make it easy for them and include your social handles on your résumé.
Staying Competitive In the Job Market
Cover letters may still be used by some old-fashioned executives, but in truth, they’re an artifact of a time gone by. Keep an eye out for job listings that specifically ask for them, but be aware that the industry is slowly moving away from these relics—and eventually, the rest of us will have to move with it.
Contact Urgenci for more information about the latest hiring trends affecting your industry!