In the age of LinkedIn profiles and email, it’s tempting to think that there’s no need for a cover letter. I’d argue the opposite is true. In fact, when it comes to human resources, I think it’s more important than ever. It’s a great opportunity to demonstrate how you’re the perfect candidate for that new job you’ve always wanted.

Are cover letters required in HR anymore?

I could be going out on a limb here, some HR professionals have declared the cover letter dead. And figures from a Jobvite survey last year in the US show many job applicants agree. Actually, 47% of Americans didn’t use a cover letter when they applied for the job they’re currently in.

Also, the younger you are the more likely you are not to bother with one. With 58% of those aged between 18-22, don’t send a cover letter.

This is certainly a trend here in Australia when we recruit for our clients or for ourselves at Catalina Consultants. Many applicants leave off a cover letter, assuming their CV or LinkedIn profile will do all the convincing for them. But it’s not a wise idea.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a job without one. Many people succeed in getting a job based on their CV alone. And some companies using an online system for applications allow no space to add one. So there are circumstances in which you safely say you won’t need a cover letter.

But in most situations, speaking from experience in HR, if you leave a cover letter out you run the risk of someone who values them ignoring your application altogether just because it is undifferentiated from the pile other applications they’ve received.

Why we need cover letters for talent recruitment

That’s what a good cover letter does. It shows why you’re different to everyone else who’s applied. Explains why I should read your CV in the first place. It draws the connections between what you’ve done – your education, skills, experience and past career – and the job you’re applying for.

In doing so, it makes the HR department or recruiter’s job easy by doing the heavy lifting and letting you explain yourself up front so that you’re on the front foot when it comes to helping them form an opinion of you.

What it does for talent recruitment

While a CV is somewhat formulaic and static no matter what the job is, a cover letter is bespoke. It lets you talk about the specific role and argue your case. Why choose me?

It’s no easy task to write a good one (which is one of the main reasons I think many people prefer to skip it altogether). But here are the key characteristics I think a good cover:

Make your cover letter recruitment worthy

I know, I know. It’s hard to do all of this in four paragraphs. When I said it wasn’t going to be easy I wasn’t lying. But use your judgement. The right ingredients for your cover letter will depend on you personally, the job you’re applying for, and the company and industry it’s in. The nice thing about cover letters is there’s no right or wrong: it’s about introducing yourself and presenting yourself in the best possible light so you have the best chance of showing you’re a good fit for the role and snaring yourself that all-important interview.

Keen to find out more?

If you’d like to know more about what to look for in a cover letter or have any questions about HR or talent recruitment, then get in touch.