To whom it may concern: Are cover letters obsolete?

As the recruitment function automates, the place of the cover letter is up in the air.


Platforms are screening resumes and applications for keywords; AI-powered interview bots are asking initial questions and tech is quickly ranking applications and funneling them into inboxes. In today’s time-critical recruitment process, the argument could be made that a cover letter slows screening time, forcing recruiters to read though yet another document as they search for the right applicant. But, written correctly, they may also offer a quick synopsis of the candidate’s qualifications and experience, as well as some insight into their personality and goals.


Are cover letters over? Or are they changing like so many other aspects of recruiting are these days?

The state of cover letters


According to Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster, the cover letter isn’t dead yet; "Hiring managers will still ask for them. Not all, but many," she told HR Dive in an email.


But for Ally Van Deuren, university relations lead at Korn Ferry, they’re too time consuming. "I personally rarely look at cover letters," she said in an email. "The average recruiter spends an average of [seven] seconds per resume, so honing a resume is more important!"


Many companies no longer require cover letters, Paul Lesser, head of talent acquisition at Fidelity Investments, told HR Dive, but added: "We are redefining how we attract top talent with diverse skills and perspectives, and a cover letter can help a prospective employee showcase unique thoughts or experiences that may set them apart from other applicants." In many cases, he said in an email, cover letters are not necessary; for most of Fidelity’s roles, the company doesn’t require them.


Save time or delve deep?

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