Are cover letters still necessary?

***UPDATE***  The results to the post below are in.  See my conclusions HERE or HERE


Hi everyone.


An unusually short post from me this time around…. What do you mean, “Phew”? !!!


Recently I’ve been having some interesting discussions and debates on the relevance of our dear o’l friend, the cover letter in todays recruitment practices and processes.


I am firmly in the, “there’re a waste of time and hardly ever read anyway” camp but what do others think?


Are cover letters still a necessary requirement in the recruitment world of today or should they be banished to the crypts of recruitment past?


I’ve set up a little poll on LinkedIn and will be reporting on the findings, if enough people participate that is.


Simply vote by clicking on this link - to be taken to the poll (which is set to expire on Friday 19th August 2011)

Let the debate begin :-)

Views: 1196

Comment by Sunil Suri on August 11, 2011 at 12:49pm

I feel a professionally written cover letter is important and I have a reason. Recruiters as it is do not read the full CV, particularly if it covers more than a decade experience. The cover letter can be used to concise the CV content and present what is relevant to the opportunity available. It shows that the candidate has spent time to relate to the job. My view.

Comment by Anne Taylor on August 11, 2011 at 1:21pm

Agree with Sandra.  I rarely read them unless something in the first paragraph catches my eye - info such as relo plans, why one is interested, etc.,  I never read if the cover letter is attached to the email in a separate document....

Comment by Ben on August 11, 2011 at 3:24pm

Hi Anne, Sunil.  Thanks for your comments.  This debate is really kicking up some great ideas. I look forward to posting my findings when the poll closes.  if you haven't done so already please cast your vote on the LinkedIn poll i've set up here -


Thanks again everyone for your contributions.

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on August 11, 2011 at 4:41pm

they are still important but - as already mentioned they must be relevant.  Just a blind resume with no real direction on what you want or why I should open your resume attachment will most likely be left to deal with in all my free time.


My favorite was years ago recruiting for one giant software company and receiving a cover letter expressing interest in working for another giant e-commerce company...

Comment by Lipton Fleming on August 12, 2011 at 6:34am
Casted our vote, we think that they can be of great importance and if done well can be a major selling point but on the other hand can see that they might be classed as futile.
Comment by Martin Perinne on August 12, 2011 at 9:25am
When I view a cover letter, I look to see how well they can write on their own. I usually receive something that is poorly written, and even at times has no resume attached. I prefer to glance through a cover letter just to ensure they have addressed the right person and actually looked at the job and has good communication skills.
Comment by Erin Wilson on August 12, 2011 at 11:31am

I find this to be an industry/role/skill set specific answer. In the case of technology, where I spend all of my time, I have asked countless managers this very question and they NEVER read the cover letter of a software engineer.


That said, the marketing and advertising or for examplic technical writer type roles ALWAYS prefer a short and well-written cover letter.


Personally - I appreciate them but believe the background and more importantly a 5-10 minute conversation with the person is much more representative.

Comment by Ben on August 12, 2011 at 12:33pm

Wow. truly blown away by the level of response on this one.  The poll is still open over on LinkedIn - . If you haven't already done so please head over there an casty your vote.


Really looking forward to collating the results and blogging about my findings and conclusions :-)

Comment by Doug Munro on August 12, 2011 at 2:16pm
I admit I'm not going to add anything novel to the conversation - it seems the truly prescient points have been made. I will just amplify that if a candidate can convey something useful not typically found in a resume, like salary requirements, than it can be useful. It is also an opportunity to see how well they can craft a letter, convey an idea - essentially how well they communicate in written form (since everyone rates themselves "excellent" in that regard). Perhaps the most important component is the opportunity to show me that they have researched my company and the position; I am impressed when someone conveys an understanding of a position and demonstrates why they believe they are specifically qualified for it. That said, others are correct when they state that few cover letters meet these criteria.
Comment by Bert Shimabukuro on August 12, 2011 at 8:43pm

The ones I find most useful are the T-shaped cover letters with two columns where the left column lists the requirements and the right column lists the corresponding skills.


Outside of the T-shaped cover letters, I'm in the "no" camp. 


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