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Not too long ago cover letters were considered an essential component in the job application process, giving individuals the opportunity to highlight and elaborate on their relevant skills and experience in a more tailored way than on your resumé. Though in recent years, there has been a significant shift to online application systems and cover letters are becoming less and less of a necessity.

Obviously if a company specifies that they would like you to include a cover letter, it wouldn’t reflect particularly well on you if you weren’t to supply them with one and of course you should write it to the best of your ability. However, if there is no reference to a cover letter requirement, it may not actually be worth your time writing one, as it is likely that they assess candidates in alternative ways and your cover letter won’t be considered.

Recruiters don’t have the time:

Recruiters will receive hundreds, even thousands of resumés in a working week and frankly, they just don’t have the time to sift their way through all of them, let alone hundreds of cover letters that accompany them. A large part of the time a cover letter just consists of a more elaborately worded version of your resumé anyway, so you’re probably better off just making sure that all the important information is on your resume, as all in all it’s got a much larger chance of being acknowledged.

Automated online systems have taken over:

Rather than writing a tailored letter to an employer like you may have in the past, when expressing interest in potential employment, companies now have specific websites, forms and fields to fill out regarding the job openings and your suitability. The systems will identify exactly which job you would like to apply for and will ask specific questions regarding your qualifications, skills and aptitude, cutting straight to the point and it is likely that this is the only information that recruiters will read, rendering cover letters obsolete.

Focus on what’s important:

It’s your resumé that does most of the talking when applying for a job and the way that you present yourself on here will determine whether you are invited for an interview or not, so it’s probably best to focus your energy on making it as strong and streamlined as possible. Centre your attention on customising your resumé, making useful connections, or building a portfolio of your work to exhibit your abilities, as these will put you in better stead of being considered for the job than dedicating your time to writing cover letters that may not be read.

All things considered, cover letters have most likely lost the significance that they once had. Time is valuable when you are on the job hunt and rather than wasting it writing letters that are likely the be discarded without a glance, focus on producing a polished resumé highlighting your strengths and career achievements, that will represent you in your best light.

What do you reckon? Is the cover letter passé or do you think there is still a place for them? Let us know.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]


About Sophie Deering

You can follow Sophie at @SophieDeering.

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