Let’s face it: in 2 years as a Recruiter, I never read a cover letter.

And you know what? My colleagues did not either.

Ah sorry actually I read one cover letter because I found the CV funny…

I do remember in 1998, when I was looking for a job, I used to spend hours and hours crafting a very good cover letter for each job I was applying for. If I could send 4-5 cover letters a day, it was a good day.

You know what, when I have clients using the same way of searching for a job today I am amazed.

Amazed because (almost) all recruiters don’t even open a cover letter.

Let’s do the math:

1 hour for a good cover letter, you send a minimum of 3 highly focused applications a day

so it is around 3 hours of writing.

I prefer you to spend these 3 hours networking, going out and unveiling those hidden jobs, spending so much time on cover letters is worthless.

You need to know that truth right now…I know some people will argue that some recruiters (dinosaurs) still read cover letters.

Actually read this interesting debate, between sital and a resume writer

The solution?

Stop spending time on cover letters and invest in a very short email alongside your CV.

It is more efficient, less time-consuming.

And if they are really interested in your application, they can ask for a cover letter.

Think about it: if your CV fits with the position, or if they already know you, what is a cover letter for?

Please in 2009, apply 2009 search techniques, and not 1998 search techniques.

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7 comments untill now

  1. Edwin Thomas @ 2009-11-24 09:41

    Well…what ya know!! A professional recruiter with the truth about Cover Letters! Thanks! You acknowledged what my instincts were telling me about this outdated practice. However, the Cover Letter seems useful when providing details about experience and salary history, right?

  2. But for the experience we have your CV anyway, and the salary is the kind of question you ask during the interview or over the phone…

  3. There is also the issue over misspelled, badly punctuated cover letters which quite often are all about how getting the job would improve the candidate’s ‘skills and experience’ as opposed to how the candidate could benefit the company!

    I had one from a graduate the other day with not a single upper case character in it. What Generation Y (and god help us generation Z) has to remember is that the head of HR may not be from the ‘text generation lol’…

  4. This is how I feel about marketing. Scatter gun spray approaches yield very low results, but get an effective network operating and it brings in proper leads of a quality you can’t beat.

    In a service organsiation like mine there is no alternative to owrd of mouth recommendation when it comes to making leads pay.

  5. I’m torn on this one, personally. While I do agree that time could be spent in more productive ways, we still see tons of positions being posted with cover letters requested. Now, perhaps that’s due to the audience (I work at a university with students). But, enough employers are asking for them that I have the sense that at least *some* recruiters still want them.

  6. Karl Lusbec @ 2009-12-01 09:05

    I agree with the fact that cover letters are an old age practice. Although they are often requested by companies/job boards etc, the question is: What can cover letters be replaced with?
    How about a personal branding power point presentation which shows creativity and position yourself better for the job you are applying for? Also, it demonstrates your willingness to differentiate yourself from the “crowd” by sending an unexpected document. Building a deck also allows you to better communicates on your attributes and skills.
    Now, how recruiters/HR will react to such an approach? Could it be seen as too bold and unconventional and therefore binned? Could it be seen as fantastically creative and thoughtful?
    In my opinion, such an approach is definitly worthwhile, as it is quite new, professional, unexpected and….fun.

  7. I’ve been a recruiter for many years and have to say….I don’t read the cover letter that starts out with the same template as we learned in college back in the….well…I’m not saying. What I suggest to my clients is a comparison of the talent and skills they posses with the talent needed for the successful job candidate. I also tell them to remove the objective from their resumes.

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