Below, I list the top three reasons why I feel cover letters are pointless and why recruiters and hiring managers should stop requesting them.
1. Obvious intentions. Candidates are told that a key purpose of a cover letter is to express your intention for submitting your resume. So you start your letter with something along the lines of, “Please consider me for the position of…” or “It is with great enthusiasm that I submit my application for…” There are really only so many ways you can tell a recruiter that you want to be considered for the job you are applying to. To me, it’s obvious enough by the fact that a candidate is sending in their resume that they want to be considered for a position.
2. Redundancy of candidate information. I find most of the content found in cover letters is redundant of information found on the resume. Candidates are told to utilize a cover letter as part of a job application to highlight key relevant experiences as well as personal contact information for interview follow-ups. However, this content should already be clearly articulated on your resume. Each time a candidate applies to a job, he should update his resume to highlight relevant experience and ensure personal contact information is updated and easy to find. Well-written and clearly laid-out resumes completely negate the need for a cover letter.
3. Communication skills assessment. For most jobs these days, written communication skills are a must-have. At times, a cover letter may be utilized by a recruiter or hiring manager to assess a candidate’s written communication abilities as a part of the position screening process. My thoughts on this are twofold. First of all, you can already assess writing skills based on the candidate’s resume. Second of all, candidates frequently get help writing their resumes, and at times someone else could be writing it altogether on their behalf, so it’s not necessarily an accurate illustration of the candidate’s personal writing abilities. If written communication skills are extremely crucial for a job, you should assess this in real time through email communications or written tests.