Cover letters have long been a staple of job applications, but in today’s fast-paced digital world, they are becoming increasingly outdated. In entry and mid-tier job applications, asking for a cover letter is not only time consuming for the applicant, but it is also largely ignored by the hiring staff as it is not a necessity for these roles. At this stage, candidates with skill and the ability to prove how skilled they are come out above people who can write a cover letter well but do not have the know-how to back it up. Keep reading below to learn how situations like this point to why cover letters may no longer be relevant when it comes to hiring.
Time Consuming for All Parties
Cover letters can be time-consuming to write and read. With hundreds of resumes flooding in for each job posting, hiring managers may not have the time or desire to read through lengthy cover letters. The more accessible the job is skill-wise, the more likely it is that recruiters and hiring staff will skip directly to the resume to confirm a candidate’s skills before moving on.
Similarly, job seekers may not have the time or resources to craft a custom cover letter for every job they apply for. Job hunting itself is time consuming, but expecting candidates to either craft a dull and general cover letter or spend time creating individual ones for each application is a great way to scare away potential talent who simply happen to be short on time.
These letters may not accurately reflect a candidate’s qualifications and abilities. Some job seekers may excel at writing compelling cover letters, but may not have the skills or experience that are actually required for the job. In contrast, candidates who have the necessary qualifications may not be able to articulate their strengths in a cover letter.
It pays to remember that cover letters are from the point of view of the candidate. A more accurate representation of skill, work ethic, and personality would be a reference from a previous employer, coworker, or employee, all of whom can speak freely as they have no stake in whether or not the applicant is hired.
Barriers and Bias
Cover letters can be a barrier to entry for job seekers who do not have English as their first language or who have disabilities that make writing difficult. This creates an unfair advantage for those who are more proficient at writing cover letters, even if their qualifications and experience are similar to other candidates.
Additionally, cover letters can create a dangerous bias in the hiring process. Hiring managers may favor candidates who come across as familiar to them in their cover letters, even if their qualifications are similar to other candidates. People who use similar language, dialects, or jargon can create an unconscious bias within the hiring staff, leading them to limit the hiring pool to people similar to themselves instead of the most skilled applicants.
There are occasions where cover letters may actually function to the benefit of all parties. In hiring for high-level, low availability, and incredibly competitive internal roles, cover letters give candidates who have already spent time proving their skills that they are equally capable at representing their goals, desires, and more. These letters work best in situations like this because the core skills and qualifications have already been proven through time and experience, so now all that is left is for the candidates to prove that they are the right one for the role through declarations of dedication and interest.
Cover letters may have been useful in the past, but they are becoming less relevant in today’s job market. Employers should focus on evaluating candidates based on their experience, skills, and qualifications, rather than their ability to write a persuasive cover letter. By doing so, they can ensure that they are hiring the best candidates for the job, regardless of their writing abilities.
If you are looking to hire skilled employees without worrying about bias or lacking qualifications, then reach out to a recruiter here! Our recruiters are specialized to address the needs of individual fields and are ready to help you find that perfect employee today!