Why The Cover Letter Is Dead
Why The Cover Letter Is Dead

In offering some advice today to a family member who is job hunting, I came to the realization that the cover letter is all but dead. The family member’s query was how to write a compelling/ interesting cover letter because he was looking to find ways to get his resume noticed by the hiring managers.

His inquiry wasn’t a bad one. Because it’s true. Cover Letter seems no longer popular nowadays.

He wanted his resume to stand out against the rest. It’s no secret that hiring/HR managers see hundreds of resumes per opening. Only a small percentage of them ultimately get considered. So as such, candidates want their resumes to stand out and show how they are best for the position. As a result you type a letter in an attempt to set yourself apart from the other applicants.

On top of the vast competition of applicants, there is also the resume itself. I have heard many reasons for resumes to be declined by hiring managers . Some of these are from spelling errors to poor formatting. Forget about whether you think you have the technical skills or not. The way your resume looks can determine your future employment opportunities. All of these factors result in why so many people put such a high emphasis on the cover letter.

Candidates realize the resume is your first impression, and not the cover letter.

You are making an attempt at setting yourself apart and explaining why they should consider you. As such, the cover letter becomes that outlet to make that impression.

We live in a social media world where 140 characters is the max attention our brain can offer. Consequently hiring managers would like to decide if you are a fit as quickly as possible. A study by The Ladders revealed that on average recruiters review resumes for about 6.25 seconds before determining if you are a fit. A cover letter unfortunately does not fit into this equation. While I am sure the candidate spent a good amount of time preparing what they would like to say, cover letters get skimmed over with little to no interest.

The other issue adding to this is not personalizing cover letters.

Too many times I have received a cover letter that looks like it has been copied, pasted and sent to roughly 15 different jobs without personalization. Nothing shows a lack of preparation more than this.

I have been in the recruiting industry for close to 7 years. I do not have the exact numbers, but in that time I must have submitted thousands of candidates to my client’s requirements. And although I do not have the precise stats, I do know this much; of all the candidates to get hired by my clients through me, I have never submitted one with a cover letter. I send my clients a copy of the candidates resume and put together an email that highlights their experience and how it relates to the position.

That is what I recommend to individuals who ask for advice when job hunting. It’s not enough to simply apply for a position in today’s society. You must get direct contact to separate yourself from the herd. That is the beauty of sites such as LinkedIn. In the past the hiring manager was a mysterious figure behind a job ad. Now you can pull up a posting on LinkedIn, and not only is the poster right there for you, there are even suggestions on how you could be connected with them.

It is on you as a candidate to find that person and reach out to them.

The recruiting and staffing industry is a multi-billion dollar business, because ultimately the hiring process is a personal experience. So rather than putting your effort into a cover letter, find that persons email address and put together a personalized message on why you are applying and a fit for the position. It doesn’t have to be too long, just give the person a reason to spend more than 6.25 seconds on your resume since you won’t have a cover letter.

Job Search Statistics Every Job Seeker Should Know
Job Search Statistics Every Job Seeker Should Know

Job Seekers could have all the skills and  experience to make you the best candidate for a role, but if you’ve made sloppy mistakes on your resume, or not taken the time to write it in a way that will get you noticed, it could cost you the job.

Recruiters generally make up their mind about a Job Seeker within 60 seconds of glancing at their resume, so it could be something as small as a spelling error that gets your application discarded.

So what makes a stand out resume and what are the most common mistakes that job seekers make?

CV and Resume Statistics:
What are the top reasons that recruiters reject a Job Seekers resume?
  • 59% of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error. Though these mistakes seem small, they indicate that the candidate is sloppy and hasn’t taken the time to proofread their resume.
  • Over 50% of recruiters will reject a candidate if their resume is full of cliches. You need to differentiate yourself from the crowd, cliches are boring.
  • Over 40% are also put off by too much design, such as snazzy borders, inappropriate fonts, clipart images…..or even an emoji!
What are the top 10 resume cliches that recruiters hate?

“I can work independently.” – Most people can!

“I’m a hard worker.” – Yes, aren’t we all?

“I work well under pressure.” – Congratulations you tough cookie!

What makes a great resume?
  • Read through your resume at least 3 times to make sure there are NO spelling or grammar mistakes and it all reads smoothly. Get someone else to check it over too, in case you missed something and to get a second opinion.Keep your resume as professional as possible. Photosare not necessary and fancy fonts make it look slightly unprofessional. Stick to a simple font such as Calibri or Arial, use bullet points for easy scan-ability and ensure that they layout is consistent throughout. Try to keep it to a couple of pages long.
  • Ensure that your contact details are correct and up to date.
  • Tailor your resume for the job, mentioning keyword s and skills that are included in the job advert.
  • Use specific examples of achievements from each role
Facts from Recruitment Agency Source
  • On average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes. Of those candidates, 4 to 6 will get called for an interview, and only one will get the job. (Glassdoor)
  • Recruiters take an average of six seconds to scan a resume. (TheLadders)
  • What recruiters say they look for on a resume (Jobvite Recruiter Nation Report 2016):
    • Job Experience – 67%
    • Cultural Fit – 60%
    • Cover Letters – 26%
    • Prestige of College – 21%
    • GPA – 19%
    • 62% of employers are specifically looking for your soft skills. (Careerbuilder)
  • What a list of what recruiters want to see from job seekers (Careerbuilder):
    • Resumes Tailored to the Open Position – 63%
    • Skill Sets Listed First on a Resume – 41%
    • Cover Letters – 40%
    • Application Addressed to the Hiring Manager – 22%
    • Links to Personal Blogs, Portfolios, or Websites – 16%
    • 53% of employers feel they need more than a resume to assess if someone is fit for a job. (Careerbuilder)
  • 44% of job seekers think they spend 1-5 minutes reading a job post when they spend 49.2 – 76.7 seconds reading a job post. (TheLadders)
  • Recruiters will penalize people who have pursued non-standard work or work that’s “beneath” the candidate. (American Sociological Review)
  • Not using your professional skills can hurt a resume as much as one year of unemployment. The damage is limited for those who had temp agency employment. (American Sociological Review)
  • Recruiters penalize men for part-time work but not women. (American Sociological Review)
  • 4% of resumes errors come from mistakes in former job experience descriptions. (TheLadders)
  • 6% of resume errors come from the miscommunication of skills on a resume. (TheLadders)
  • 7% of resume errors involved missing accomplishments. (TheLadders)
  • Here’s what recruiters say will get a resume rejected in 2016 (Careerbuilder):
    • Impersonal Applications (No Hiring Manager’s Name) – 84%
    • No Thank You Note After Interview – 57%
    • Resumes Aren’t Customized and Tailored – 54%
    • No Cover Letter – 45%
    • No Follow Up With Employer After Interview – 37%f
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