Is the Cover Letter a Liability Now?

Nancy Anderson
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Job seekers often spend a significant amount of time during their job search writing and rewriting cover letters to impress hiring managers, but a recent survey may confirm what many candidates already suspect — their time may be wasted. A 2015 survey by the Addison Group reports that technology has replaced the usefulness of the letter, with only 18 percent of hiring managers finding an introductory letter a helpful tool in assessing job applicants.

Technology has changed the way hiring takes place. Hiring managers are seeking more technologically advanced tools to assess candidates instead of relying on the cover letter. Many companies automate the hiring process by including reflective questions within online applications that uncover information commonly found on an introductory letter that accompanies a resume. Questions may prompt applicants to reveal their leadership styles, teamwork approach and strategies to handle conflict or customer complaints.

Video interviews have also become popular among employers. A video interview helps employers evaluate the applicant's skills, personality and professionalism before an in-person interview is even necessary. Some employers ask candidates to answer a few interview questions on video and submit the multimedia presentation with application materials during the job search instead of submitting a cover letter. Employers may also request a Skype interview before requesting applicants visit the establishment to narrow down the search. Technology can ease the process of narrowing down the applicant pool and save the company the time and money required to physically interview multiple candidates.

Employers also spend time scouring social media accounts to determine each candidate's professional persona and qualifications. More and more job seekers have established professional social media accounts and online portfolios to ease the hiring process for employers.

The cover letter may not be beneficial for some employers, but candidates are often left playing the guessing game when it comes to determining if a letter accompanying application materials is necessary. Career experts stress the importance of reading through the application instructions carefully. Employers who request a cover letter are expecting the candidate to detail skills, experiences and accomplishments in a creative and concise manner. Compile a letter that goes above and beyond a general template, and personalize the piece for each position. Detail why you want to work for the company, and show that you have researched the business. Compare your skills to the skills desired in the job description to show that you are an ideal match for the position and a good fit for the company's culture.

A cover letter may not be an important part of the hiring process for all employers, but job candidates should be prepared to write a letter when the job advertisement requests one. Show that you can follow directions, and present your qualifications in a creative manner.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Kimberly thank you for that. Many times the posting will indicate that you will not be considered for the position if you don't send both a resume and a cover letter. But many times the posting will not mention the cover letter. Does that mean that you shouldn't send one? No. Unless the posting specifically states resume only, I would send a cover letter.

  • kimberly f.
    kimberly f.

    A cover letter is a document sent WITH your resume to provide ADDITIONAL information on your skills and experience.
    Employers use cover letters as a way to screen applicants for available jobs and to determine which candidates they would like to interview. If an employer requires a cover letter, it will be listed in the actual job posting.

  • wexog wexog
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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @April thanks for your comment. Yes it does take thought and a lot of energy to write a good cover letter. But that's the whole gist here. When you are job hunting you need to treat it like a job. So writing a cover letter would be no different than writing a letter on your job or even responding to a higher-ups emails. Let it be fun instead of exhausting. Let your true personality come through. Let the company know what you can do for them not what they can do for you. Best of luck in your job search.

  • APRIL B.
    APRIL B.

    Good information

    Online job hunting is so exhausting, all it takes is one really good cover letter to wipe me out of the hunt :/

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Tony writing a cover letter is not something to be feared. The cover letter is an extension of your resume but not from your point of view but the company's. You need to explain to them how you can help them - what's in it for them, not for you. There are tons of examples on the internet to give you an idea. Ideas only - never copy another person's cover letter and pass it off as your own. You want your own personality to shine through.

  • Tony W.
    Tony W.

    I would love for you to help me write a cover letter

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