If you’re a recruiter or an employer, then you see a plethora of job applications on a daily basis. Some members of hiring teams believe that cover letters are just another document to overextend the review process. But is a cover letter just a test in a candidate’s work ethic or is it so much more? Even if you typically don’t take the time to read a candidate's cover letter, here’s a few reasons why you should consider giving it a look.
The cover letter is the first meeting. Many applicants include some of their professional interests, career goals, and personal values in their cover letters. This additional information is helpful to the hiring team because it helps determine how an applicant will fit into the company culture. The cover letter is far more personable than the resume, therefore it supplements the applicant’s qualifications and skills with details about their personality which is just as valuable as their professional expertise and experience. You can easily determine if an applicant’s values are aligned with company values by simply reading the cover letter.
Cover letters fill in the gaps that resumes missed. Maybe a candidate’s resume was impressive but you still have some lingering questions. The cover letter, being that it is more detailed and personable, could actually answer some of those questions you may need answered in order to seal the deal. If a candidate included a certain metric on their resume but you’re unsure about how they arrived at that metric, you may be surprised to find that the candidate went into more detail in their cover letter in order to save page space on their resume. Cover letters are a great opportunity for anecdotal story telling. Reading the cover letter could provide more evidence to a candidate’s experience.
Reading the cover letter makes the hiring process quicker. Some recruiters tend to opt-out of reading an applicant’s cover letter to cut back on the time spent reviewing an applicant’s application. However not reading the cover letter could actually make the hiring process longer in the end. Cover letters are a great way to narrow down the number of applicants you have to interview for a role because the cover letter provides more insight and detail about an applicant’s experience and qualifications. After reading a few cover letters you may find that the time you would have spent interviewing 15 candidates is cut in half because many of the determining questions have already been answered acting as another elimination round.
The cover letter is the applicant’s writing sample. An applicant’s cover letter is an example of how that applicant will represent you and your company. The cover letter reveals how the applicant will communicate both internally and externally. Reading the cover letter will help the hiring team familiarize themselves with an applicant’s writing style, tone, and voice conveyed through written communication. A cover letter is a way to determine if an applicant is capable of communicating using the company voice. This is essential if the applicant will serve as a point of contact representing the company at any time in the role. Considering that email communication is the primary method of communication within most professional organizations, reading the cover letter could help the hiring team avoid recruiting a candidate that could potentially misrepresent the company through poor communication.
Reading the cover letter may seem like an unnecessary and time-consuming task, but it’s actually more beneficial than it seems. Not only are cover letters packed with valuable information, but if an applicant is passionate about securing a role, then you may find that in that overflowing pile of applications, the ones with the cover letters can help you improve the recruitment process.
Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.
Register or sign in today!