The pros of requiring a cover letter is that you are able to see peoples skill set. Additionally, cover letters are a good way to find candidates that are willing to take that extra step towards applying. However, cover letters can deter candidates from ever applying. Some prospects will fill out all the information and then, once they see the ‘upload a cover letter’ section, they will abandon the process, resulting in a reduced pool of candidates.
Here are some things to consider when asking for cover letters:
Is it necessary?
As stated before, usually a cover letter is a good way to see an applicant's skill set regarding their analytical and writing skills. How necessary are these skills regarding the job? A resume is already doing the job of listing the qualifications for the candidate. Perhaps a cover letter is not very useful in that case.
It’s possible that there are better options to cover letters out there. If the position requires a person to be a good speaker, try asking for a video-based response. Or, have applicants take a quiz to see peoples skill level. Every industry needs to tailor their application process to best fit their field.
Keep all applicants in mind
There are some applicants that may be very busy the day they apply but are amazing prospects. They may be busy now, but they have most of the qualifications that are necessary to fulfill the job. A cover letter might be the one thing standing between you and the right candidate.
Offer both options
If you don’t want to completely remove cover letters from the application process, try making cover letter submissions optional. That way, you can have a greater pool of applicants to choose from. But if you do, you shouldn’t hold it against those who do not submit one.
Nonetheless, asking for a cover letter will decrease the amount of applications received. So, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of asking for one.
Asking for a cover letter is a traditional form of being able to review applicants and their attributes. Skipping a cover letter can garner a greater pool of prospects which can lead you towards finding the ideal candidate. Both approaches, asking for a cover letter or not, are valid forms of finding employees. It’s best to consider both options while considering the industry you are in. Focus on requesting a cover letter if it is a valuable asset and not just because it is standard practice. Do not be afraid to change the hiring process because it can lead to greater success of your company.
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