This is a question that, as recruiters, we’ve been asked and also pondered on ourselves over our 3 o’clock cup of tea!
A quick google search suggests that, in the most part, the cover letter is dead. With statistics showing recruiters and employers spend just 6 seconds reviewing each application they have, it seems that those seconds are spent diving straight into the CV, while around 90% of the time, the cover letter is left unopened.
Once upon a time, the cover letter was a key part of any job application; an opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants and sell yourself in the narrative way that your CV couldn’t. These days, hirers are receiving more and more applications to their roles, which means that their time spent sifting applications is at a premium. They want to be able to see, in the shortest time possible, that the applicant has the necessary skills and experience relevant to the vacancy.
Another factor in this shift away from cover letters is undoubtedly down to the rise of social media, and its power should not be underestimated! Employers and recruiters are often conducting reconnaissance routinely across all social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well as LinkedIn, as part of their recruitment and selection processes.
So what does this mean for you?
First and foremost, make sure your CV is the best sales tool it can be! We’ve written a whole separate blog about this, check it out here.
Make a conscious effort to review what information is available about you online; is it information you would be happy for a potential employer to see? Suddenly those snaps from a drunken night out circa 2001 might not seem so funny.
It’s not all negative though, you can make your social media work for you. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and that any bio section is well written and represents you and your career aspirations.
And finally, if a job advert does specify that a cover letter is required, then, of course, you should put pen to paper and provide one.