Cover letters are an important part of the hiring process, according to 83% of the 200 recruiters, HR specialists and hiring managers surveyed by OnePoll on behalf of ResumeLab.
A cover letter can help candidates get interviews, even if their resumes are mediocre, the survey found. Also, three-quarters of recruiters said they prefer that applications include cover letters separate from their resumes.
Cover letters help HR pros assess applicants’ motivations to join the company, their career objectives, their reasons for a job change and their personal achievements, the survey said.
Sources who have spoken previously with HR Dive hold conflicting views on the importance of the cover letter. The cover letter is not dead yet, according to Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster. “Hiring managers will still ask for them. Not all, but many,” she said.
Ally Van Deuren, university relations lead at Korn Ferry, disagreed, describing cover letters as too time-consuming. “I personally rarely look at cover letters,” she told HR Dive. “The average recruiter spends an average of [seven] seconds per resume, so honing a resume is more important!”
With employers struggling to find quality talent, the cover letter could help separate exceptional candidates from the less stellar ones. The high cost of recruiting paired with a bad hiring decision means employers must focus on quality in hiring, according to a recent JazzHR report.