Cover Letters: A Waste of Your Time
I’m sure all of us at one point have spent a long time perfecting cover letter after cover letter. As a marketer within a recruitment agency, I’ve learned that recruiters rarely read cover letters. A detailed CV and skills match seems much more important when initially finding candidates.
Author Tony Beshara’s surveyed over 3,000 hiring managers and only 14% said cover letters were ‘important’ when receiving CVs.
So are they worth writing?
From a candidate’s point of view I can understand that writing cover letters can become tedious, especially when they are rarely read. However, a cover letter can show motivation in an application, making it stand out from others. It’s difficult to tell whether a cover letter will be read in each individual case, but perhaps it’s better to be safe than sorry.
A specific and targeted cover letter can add great value to an application. It can highlight things a CV can’t. For instance, why a candidate can be the right cultural fit or why they are passionate about a specific industry. This can sometimes be more important than the required skills, as discovered in ‘You’re not the right cultural fit’.
It can also:
- Show off other skills, including writing which is essential for all marketing positions
- Share other key points that you can’t fit into your CV
- Demonstrate that you are dedicated to your application through time and effort
A cover letter must be written if requested, but if a cover letter is not specifically requested our recruiters advise not to write one. Many recruiters prefer a well written and relevant CV alone to establish a candidate’s suitability.
But how can you stand out without a cover letter?
Write a tailored CV. Candidates are much better off spending the time they would on a cover letter on editing their CV instead. When tailoring a CV it is important to relate it to the industry, the company and the job.
How to tailor your CV:
- Highlight previous job roles that are relevant to the job you are applying to.
- If possible, use examples such as achievements to further highlight your suitability.
- Read the job description and person specification. Match these same skills within your CV, using identical key words to make it relevant.
- Use the most relevant reference you can. You may think you must use your most recent employer; however this isn’t always the case.
- Think about the company culture and the style of your CV. A corporate company will more likely want to read a traditional CV. However, a company with a modern outlook may appreciate a creative CV.
- Tailor your hobbies. Stay away from generic hobbies. For example if you’re applying for a creative role, show your interest in art or drawing. Or if you’re applying for a role within a team, highlight specific team sports you’ve been involved in.
If you need help tailoring your CV, we offer free CV clinics when you register with us. Email your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org to register.