Can We Please Stop Asking for Cover Letters Yet?

From what I can see, it seems most companies still ask for cover letters.  Isn’t this just one more hurdle and inconvenience to make applicants go through that really doesn’t add value?

Based on my experience, cover letters are not needed anymore.  I know I am not alone in this (from speaking with peers), but I have not read a cover letter in years.  By and large, we don’t care what is on the cover letter.  Everything we need to see should be on the resume.

Likewise, for many years now, I have not sent hiring managers cover letters either.  I figured I would not send them unless I was asked to send them.  Guess what…I have not been asked to send the cover letters, but once by a single hiring manager…ten years ago.

So if the hiring managers are not asking for the cover letters, I suspect that even if my peers are forwarding them, the hiring managers are not reading them.  It may be a surprise to some recruiters, but hiring managers do not read everything we send them.

Then the question becomes, “Why do we still keep asking for cover letters?”

I suspect it is just habit.  Perhaps sluggishness and inability to keep up with the times.  Cover letters are throwbacks from the 1950s when we still asked people to mail their cover letters and resumes based on an ad the person saw in the newspaper.

Now with email and online submissions…with prescreening questions asked as part of the application process…with LinkedIn and other sources of information…do we really still need to see a cover letter?

I have had hiring managers reject candidates for simply not listing a specific kind of experience on their resumes, although I spoke with the applicants and they have a couple of years experience with the required experience.  Didn’t matter.  The hiring manager wants to see it on the resume.

I sometimes see articles saying the resume is dead, but that is laughable.  We still keep asking for cover letters.  Until the cover letter is completely dead and no longer asked for, resumes are alive and well.

The resume could very well be replaced some day, but first we have to let go the outdated and often unread cover letter.  This is something I would like to see done as soon as possible.


It is a headache for applicants.  Also the very best, the most in demand candidates don’t need to jump through hoops to get work.  So if you require a cover letter, you may lose out of the very best and most in demand candidates from applying.

Also, it gives the impression to job applicants that they don’t have to update their resumes and/or tailor it to the job they are applying to.  They just would need to mention it in the cover letter.  Job applicants get the wrong impression that the cover letter can make up for missing information in the resume.

Cover letters were a way to screen out people when you had a lot of candidates.  For high demand and difficult skill sets, we don’t have enough candidates.  I don’t know about you, but for my Java developer openings…I wouldn’t screen anyone out for not including a cover letter.  So why ask for one?

Cover letters are just one of those things that companies and recruiting still does and have always done (since the 1950s).  In my opinion, asking for cover letters is a clear sign of a company behind on the times…still stuck in the rut of the old ways.

Can we please stop asking for cover letters?  As an industry, recruiting has to get with the times and embrace new ways of doing things.  Cover letters add no value to me or my hiring managers…and have not for years.  I don’t believe I am in the minority.  There is no point in asking for cover letters anymore.

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Views: 432

Comment by Robin Marshall on April 3, 2017 at 2:06pm

Thank you for posting! I totally agree!


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