Is the Cover Letter Dead?

Brittney Jackson
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The cover letter is one of the many hiring traditions that have been observed by employers and job seekers alike for decades. Despite cover letters being a traditional step in the hiring process, is it really necessary anymore in this day and age? Some employers might wonder about the usefulness of the cover letter and if it’s even worth the time to read through it, especially when the hiring pool is large. Despite this some would argue that cover letters are still very much needed when considering a new hire due to the personal human touch and foresight it brings into the decision process. 

Well first let’s take a look at a few facts concerning cover letters. A 2020 survey revealed that a whopping 87% out of the 236 hiring managers in the survey reported that they read the cover letters submitted by their applicants. Only 13% of hiring managers within the survey reported that they don’t read submitted cover letters. Considering that most employers within the survey read cover letters there must be a good reason behind it!

One of the most prominent reasons amongst the employers who read the cover letters they received was because they believed cover letters provided more valuable insight into an applicant as compared to just having a resume. Employers generally can get a better feel for who the employee is and the soft skills they possess through a cover letter. 

Well, what about the 13% of employers who reported that they don’t read the cover letters they receive, what’s their reason? Well, it turns out the explanation they had was rather simple. They don’t have time! The second most common response is that employers felt that the cover letters tended to be a rehash of information they have already acquired from the resumes. While these two reasons are understandable in some cases, the overwhelming percentage of employers that still read them provides evidence that cover letters are far from dead!

It is easy to assume that cover letters are no longer needed to gain insight into job applicants, especially , considering how social media is evolving the workplace and the hiring process. While gathering information on a potential new hire through social media is useful, it may not provide the opportunity to examine technical skills such as written communication and professionalism as compared to reading a cover letter. On top of that, there are many more perks that cover letters can supply to employers during the hiring process. The cover letter gives the writer a chance to showcase their personality ahead of meeting you. Applicants that tailor their cover letters tend to have a higher level of discipline and dedication as compared to applicants that submit generic cover letters; so you can utilize cover letters to potentially scope out these qualities between applicants.

Reading cover letters for your next hire may not always be required to find a good fit for your company but cover letters themselves still possess useful qualities. Overall, it’s safe to say that the cover letter isn’t dead and should still be considered a valuable resource in the hiring process.


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