Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
A few weeks ago, I asked the question “Are Cover Letters Still Relevant?” I must admit, I was expecting a lively debate but that didn’t happen. Which might explain our poll results.
But that made me wonder, if recruiters don’t feel cover letters are necessary and candidates don’t feel that cover letters are necessary…then why have them? My original question came from articles talking about using ChatGPT to write cover letters. So why are people writing articles expressing concerns about using artificial intelligence (AI) for a document that people don’t find necessary?
Then it occurred to me that maybe people feel that cover letters aren’t necessary because they lack a purpose. And if we want them to be necessary, then they need a purpose. I’ve always felt that cover letters are a way to introduce ourselves. If there are several candidates with similar work and educational experience, a cover letter might help a person stand out.
Since this whole conversation started because of AI, I asked Bard, Google’s artificial intelligence chatbot about cover letters and it mentioned one reason that stuck out for me. Cover letters allow a candidate to showcase their personality. In general, resumes have a format and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a cover letter allows a person to show a bit of themselves. It could also be a place to communicate in your own words why you want this job or to work at this particular organization.
I’m not here to sell anyone on writing (or not writing) cover letters. But I do find it interesting that we’re having a lot of conversation about something that people don’t appear to find necessary (at least according to this unscientific poll). And I can’t figure out if that’s because we secretly want cover letters to become useful again OR because they’re just at the tail end of their usefulness in the recruiting process.
Either way, if you’re a candidate using cover letters then make them good ones. Don’t just rehash your resume in a letter format. And if you’re a recruiter evaluating a candidate based on their cover letter, have solid criteria for doing so.29