Often feared by job seekers, the cover letter seems to have lost its significance in the eyes of recruiters. Will the new decade sound the death knell?
The idea of bringing out one’s notions of literary composition can make the hair of many job seekers stand on end. This is especially true since the cover letter is far from being the most popular tool for getting to know about a candidate, especially in the era of templates that can be found on the internet with a click.
A double-edged weapon
“The validity of the cover letter is weak if the candidate has difficulty highlighting their professional strengths,” admits Denis Morin, a tenured professor of human resources management at UQAM’s School of Management Sciences. The insipid nature of a poorly written letter can even hinder hiring, the expert points out.
The cover letter only becomes an interesting tool with a good overview and effort. This text should serve to make connections between your professional career and the job requirements, using facts or scenarios. It’s important not to fall back into the trap of overstating: honesty is the best quality of a cover letter.
Still, with the emergence of online portfolios that give an overall view of a candidate’s skills, in-person interviews and even personality tests, you can wonder if the cover letter is still really a necessary tool. According to a 2015 study by Addison Group, an American recruitment agency, only 18% of American employers surveyed consider that a cover letter is an “important” factor in the hiring process.
In addition, close to 40% of companies use social media to recruit staff, according to a study conducted by the social media management platform Hootsuite. It is therefore tempting to think that a good profile on Facebook or Instagram is much more important than taking the time to write a cover letter.
A tool that needs to be sharpened
Although the cover letter can never be relied on alone to select a candidate, Denis Morin believes that it can make a big difference. “Scientific results show that with identical skills or qualifications, recruiters will give additional weight to the cover letter when making decisions on personnel selection,” the professor emphasizes. “It is therefore important to pay particular attention to the cover letter.”
Taking the time to write down your skills and qualities on paper can even have a beneficial effect on whoever takes the time to write it down. “The cover letter, when well written, contributes significantly to increasing the perception by the recruiter of competence as well as the candidate’s strong self-confidence.”
Even if it is overshadowed by the luster of online platforms, the relevance of the cover letter seems to persist in the face of rapid changes in the work world. It still needs to be built effectively.
Some cover letter templates
- Commercial and real estate paralegal
- Laboratory Technologist
- Project management
- Database Administrator