The Cover Letter: Why You Still Need One (despite what some recruiters say...)

Want to get career marketing professionals riled up? Tell them cover letters are dead.

Earlier this month, an article from a recruiter was shared in the Career Thought Leaders Consortium group on LinkedIn, titled “Cover Letters are Dead”.

The recruiter who wrote the article stated that she never reads cover letters, that mobile application processes are making cover letters obsolete, and that robust online profiles offer more insight about a candidate than a cover letter ever could.

Well, shortly after the post went live my fellow resume writers and career coaches jumped to defend the effectiveness and relevancy of cover letters. You may assume that because we sell cover letter writing services, we’re simply defending cover letters to protect a revenue source – not so.

Writing a cover letter that delivers value and complements (not replicates) your other career marketing materials, for a strong and complete package, is hard work. It would save me a lot of time to just remove the cover letter service from my offering. But, that’s not in the best interest of my career seekers. Here’s why I think this recruiter's advice could harm your job search efforts:

It’s Just One Recruiter’s Opinion

One of the recurring themes among responses to this article was that as career marketing professionals, we have all come across recruiters who value and like cover letters. When I write a cover letter for a client, I’m not thinking of recruiters who may discard cover letters, I have the exact opposite in mind – the kind of recruiter who loves reading cover letters and sees the value they offer.

Ever pack for a vacation and add something to your suitcase with the “just in case” justification? That’s pretty much my philosophy with cover letters – I want my clients’ cover letters to be outstanding, just in case they hit a recruiter who needs, wants, and loves to read them.

Poorly Crafted Cover Letters are the Real Problem

This article could have been named “Mistakes that Get Your Cover Letter Ignored”. But, I bet this more conservative title wouldn’t have generated as much attention or as many clicks. That point aside, it’s obvious this recruiter has not received many well-crafted, compelling, and high-value cover letters. If I never had a great cup of Starbucks coffee, I probably wouldn’t be one of their biggest fans!

Employers Still Ask for Them

The recruiter who published this article talked about writing cover letters as an annoying exercise. She thought that talented candidates may avoid applying for a job if they’re required to go through the exhausting effort of writing a cover letter.

The counter-argument here, is that some employers still use cover letters as a strategy for weeding-out lazy job applicants who toss resumes around like confetti.

It’s almost too easy to apply for a job when you just need to click a button or upload your resume (which, should be tailored for every position by the way!). But, the ease of applying for jobs is a double-edged sword – sure you might receive more applicants, but you’re equally likely to receive more inappropriate or unqualified applicants.

Requiring candidates to submit a cover letter (read: invest some time in the application process) is an easy way to improve the odds of receiving applications from candidates who are truly interested in working for a specific company and in a specific role (and the reasons for that interest should be clearly outlined in the cover letter).

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There is a TON of conflicting advice circulating about resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn optimization, job search strategy…etc. It can be extremely tough to go it alone and guess your way through google search after google search to create your own career marketing documents.

Save yourself the doubt and uncertainty, and consult with a career marketing professional – if only to get set on the right path and to confidently ignore articles like “Cover Letters are Dead”.

What do you think? Have I convinced you that Cover Letters are still important? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email: tammybanfield@gmail.com

Click here to read the recruiter's article: Cover Letters Are Dead

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Tammy Banfield is a professional resume writer and certified career coach who specializes in helping talented and ambitious women advance their careers and find rewarding, fulfilling jobs.

Tammy has helped over 600 career seekers from around the world secure coveted positions. Connect with Tammy on LinkedIn or at her Website. Want to know how to get headhunted? Download my free guide here: tammybanfield.com/freelinkedinguide

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