Are Cowl Letters Nonetheless Beneficial to Hiring Managers in 2021?


There’s no query that résumés stay vital items of the recruiting course of. It’s debatable that they’ve turn out to be much more related in recent times, because of applicant monitoring methods that parse their textual content to speed up candidate screening. However what about cowl letters? Within the age of on-line recruiting, “textual content converse,” and quick consideration spans, do these paperwork nonetheless matter to hiring professionals?

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To seek out out, iHire surveyed 603 U.S. hiring managers and recruiters from 56 completely different industries, asking “How vital are cowl letters in your hiring course of?” The survey outcomes confirmed that 65.3% of respondents consider cowl letters are vital in some capability; 50.6% stated they’re both “crucial” or “vital”; and 14.7% stated cowl letters are “extra vital for higher-level positions.”

Furthermore, one in three hiring managers surveyed stated they nonetheless anticipate to obtain a canopy letter even when their job posting specifies it’s non-compulsory. And 77.3% of respondents stated they need candidates to customise their cowl letters for the particular place. With loads of templates and mills obtainable to jobseekers, together with recruiting websites that enable for “mass applies,” taking the time to customise a canopy letter could make a distinction in setting somebody other than the competitors and touchdown interviews.

Cowl Letters vs. Prescreening Questions

Not all employers possess the identical sentiment towards cowl letters. Along with the truth that 34.7% of respondents stated cowl letters are “not vital,” 10.6% of hiring professionals surveyed stated they don’t trouble to learn cowl letters.

We additionally requested survey respondents to weigh in on their preferences for utilizing applicant prescreening questions. With an uptick in job candidates on account of at present’s excessive unemployment charges, prescreening questions assist busy HR groups filter out unqualified candidates on the prime of the funnel, saving them time. Subsequently, it was not stunning that 87.3% of hiring professionals stated they use prescreening questions of their recruiting processes.

Apparently, 65.3% of respondents stated they would like to make use of prescreening questions over cowl letters to be taught extra about candidates.

Survey Takeaways

What do these insights imply for hiring professionals and jobseekers? Clearly, cowl letters nonetheless present worth to a majority of employers, serving to them rent the fitting expertise, particularly for upper-level administration and supervisory roles. Nevertheless, prescreening questions are additionally efficient in hiring certified candidates, so utilizing them in lieu of or as a complement to cowl letters generally is a sensible, timesaving recruiting technique. (Simply keep in mind to ask each applicant the identical set of prescreening questions to make sure a good hiring course of.)

For jobseekers, these survey findings could also be considerably intimidating. When somebody is in a pinch to discover a job, taking the time to jot down a custom-made cowl letter for each place she or he applies for (even when it’s non-compulsory) appears counterproductive. On prime of that, candidates proceed to precise frustration over the “résumé black hole”—if their résumé gained’t make it into the palms of a hiring supervisor, so to talk, why ought to they trouble with a canopy letter?

Shorter Cowl Letters Nonetheless Efficient

Luckily, there may be some center floor in relation to cowl letter writing, which ought to present each employers and jobseekers some solace. Many HR professionals I converse with at present are discovering that shorter, customized cowl letters are simply as efficient as formal cowl letters of the pre-Web age for vetting candidates. When a jobseeker has simply seconds to impress a busy hiring supervisor, a fast however well-written word can set her or him other than different candidates. This to-the-point sort of canopy letter may merely clarify who the jobseeker is and why she or he could be a great match on your job. Subsequently, watch out to not mistake shorter cowl letters as an indication that the applicant just isn’t focused on your position.

Should you’re on the fence in regards to the worth of canopy letters, take into account that jobseekers typically use cowl letters to elucidate potential résumé crimson flags. For instance, they could point out that they’re searching for a profession change on account of a COVID-19 layoff and use the letter to play up their transferable expertise. Or, an applicant might make clear why she or he has employment gaps in his or her résumé. In such instances, ignoring candidates’ cowl letters might lead you to disqualify probably nice hires. Plus, résumés generally embody aggressive differentiators that the résumé alone doesn’t convey.

In sum, I encourage HR professionals to contemplate cowl letters in the event that they make them the fitting hiring selections, particularly when recruiting for administration, skilled, and data employee roles. Even short-and-sweet letters could be simply as, if no more, efficient than their formal, lengthier counterparts. If time is of the essence, use prescreening inquiries to slim down your expertise pool on the prime of the funnel, after which lean on cowl letters that will help you make knowledgeable selections because the hiring course of progresses.

Get extra insights from iHire’s “Worth of a Cowl Letter Survey,” here.

Steve Flook is the President & CEO of iHire.

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