Part of the reason prospective employers are ignoring cover letters is the abundance of applications that they review today. “Electronic-application processes make it easier for many candidates to apply, which sometimes means that many more applications need to be sorted through before decisions are made,” said Andrea Alaimo, director of human resources at Chicago-based Redwood Logistics. “That may be a reason that cover letters don’t hold the same value they used to. Today, we see a small fraction of total applicants include cover letters.”
Many recruiters and hiring managers also may be bypassing cover letters if they feel resumes gives them all the information they need on the prospect, said Parker McKenna, a human-resources disciplines panelist for the Society for Human Resource Management.
Fewer job prospects also are sending cover letters. A little more than half, 55%, nationwide include cover letters with their applications, a recent CareerBuilder survey found. For some, its much less. “Only a small percentage of applications we receive include cover letters, perhaps 10%,” said Tracy McShane-Wilson, executive director of talent acquisition at the accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP.
Applicants who do take the time to submit a sincere and unique cover letter, however, may set themselves apart and demonstrate that they really want the job. But a standard, generic cover letter likely will be seen as a waste of the recruiter’s time.