Death of the Cover Letter

Things change and they change quickly!

Just as we get used to a way of doing and it slips nicely into our comfort zone and thus taken for granted there is a new way.

Quite often we are not welcoming of this as we like the ways we have become accustomed to.

I recall when I started in recruitment (many moons ago) everyone was simply using paper CV’s. I could not even upload them into the CRM. They just were kept in folders with notes on them to recall previous conversations. I said to my superior at the time that we really need to find a way to upload these CV’s and I was dismissed with the aged old: “Its always been like this and its not going to change”

I think this short-sightedness is costly and indicative of a creature of habit who does not have the benefit of an open mind.

In truth at the time I believed it would change soon as I would not have said what I said, but I did feel a tad naive for asking. It seemed the case that they may be right, and people cannot see past having a paper CV handed to them.

We can laugh at this story now because we have moved on significantly since then and it makes me sound ancient. However, this was only in 2012!

With this in mind I also pronounce that the Cover Letter is DEAD!*

Yes, I have put an ‘*’ there to protect my statement.

My Case:

Picture this – In recruitment we receive 100’s if not 1000’s of CV’s per consultant every week. We use a CRM which automatically uploads the CV and either creates a new candidate on the system or updates against the existing candidate. It then presents the CV for a ‘quick view’ for us to be efficient with going through the substantial amount of people against a particular role.

This we call Screening’ and usually results in a long list.

This task needs to be concluded as quickly as possible for a variety of reasons, such as needing to work other roles, the phones going off at the same time, meetings booked and advert writing to name but a few.

It’s well documented that you only get 6 seconds to make the impression on your CV needed to progress to the next stage. However, the brutal truth in this scenario it is probably LESS!

But wait; I have not even mentioned the COVER LETTER yet! Why?

We have not even looked at it. The CRM has not presented it. Even if it did I wouldn’t read it as it is not possible with these time restraints. If I am giving less than 6 seconds to a CV at the screening stage which is the leg space for a beautifully written Cover Letter which you are pinning all your hopes on to get the interviews? There is NONE!

What tends to happen with a ‘good’ Cover Letter is the applicant omits or highlights the best and most relevant parts of their CV to the Cover Letter. This makes complete sense to the applicant. However you are doing an injustice to your application and you have either removed the best parts into obscurity or done to the Cover Letter what you should’ve done to the CV. Potentially a good candidate slips through the system and is unfortunately on the end of another rejection.

Do not write a Cover Letter in this scenario. It will cost you if you do!

In fact at we do career coaching which includes specialised work on CV’s, LinkedIn and interview techniques, we don’t even offer Cover Letter services!

Why would we charge for something that we know hurts our customers?? It goes against everything that we say we do. We create interviews. On the most part Cover Letters cost an interview!

Yes, I did add the ‘*’. This is the time to explain myself:

There is a time to use a Cover Letter. This is when the employer specifically asks for it. In this scenario you will only progress if you include it. However, it cannot be the ‘blanket’ Cover Letter that the majority tend to use. You know ‘To whom it may concern…’ ‘Dear Sir/Madam….’. This is pretty much an instant rejection. They are expecting you to write a concise and informative Cover Letter specifically for them. Just for this job and company. You MUST write a ONE OFF for them. Therefore, this is the exception to the rule.

Thus, I deduce that the type of Cover Letter which you would prepare for entering the marketplace is redundant. A bespoke version of the same still exists, but it is not the same thing.

Things have changed and the Jobseeker needs to change with it if you want a decent return on the investment in your career.

This leads to the next question….

What will replace the CV?

We have some ideas!

We would love to hear yours?

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