Why Writing A Cover Letter To Recruiters Is Unnecessary
by Matthew Thogerson
Folks take faulty approaches in looking for work these days and in many ways it’s not their fault. The world is full of annoying little nuances that make it difficult to get from point A to point B in the fastest way possible. A good example of this is having to apply online with a one-click application and then subsequently being asked to fill out a form that requests all the same information. These kinds of crazy-making processes keep smart, busy individuals from applying to roles that might be great for them.
But these archaic redundancies are not the only inefficiencies in the world of job seekers. In fact, I see an unnecessary practice rear its head on a regular basis – the cover letter.
While a cover letter written for a small organization or directly to a hiring manager (should you be so lucky these days) definitely has its place, the practice of writing cover letters to a recruiter falls short of being effective. So, here are some thoughts on the patina-covered practice of writing cover letters from the recruiter’s perspective.
Rules No. 1 Through Infinity: Don’t Write Me A Cover Letter
Like all agency recruiters, I review hundreds of resumes each week and receive numerous applications for roles I’m representing. Some come with well-planned, well-written cover letters that only elicit a sigh and an eye-roll.
Although I may be in favor of the idea of a cover letter, in practice my role requires that I get beyond the superfluous verbiage of application materials and down to hard facts like:
- Years of Experience
- Viable Skills
- Gaps in Employment
- Portfolio Strength
Also, as an agency recruiter, I am responsible for adopting the mentality and brand identity of not one but many companies. This chameleon-like adaptation, switching from a sports-apparel company to a micro-transistor manufacturer for instance, allows me to have a great amount of breadth concerning company cultures but not a great amount of depth. Therefore, you might have the best cover letter ever but because I’m not the internal recruiter I’m not making those subtle connections that tell me you’re the ideal candidate. Your cover letter is written for the wrong audience.
So when should you write a cover letter? If you are applying directly to a non-profit or other company and you lack translatable and relevant experience then, yes, consider writing a cover letter. Or if you are young and looking for your first professional job then it would be appropriate to write a cover letter. Or if a cover letter is specifically requested as a formal document of application as indicated by a job posting.
But, generally speaking, I would advise not wasting your time on a cover letter for a recruiter and instead directing those efforts toward the handful of elements that will make you an exception candidate:
- An “on point” resume — perfectly suited and curated for the role for which you’re applying.
- A sharp and engaging online presence, also appropriately curated, to put a face to your brand if anyone goes searching to learn more about you.
If, however, you simply must write something — you are as compelled to write as this dog is compelled to dance — then a brief paragraph and courtesy “hello” in the body of an email is appropriate.
Matthew Thogerson is a recruiter at 52 Limited. Follow him on Medium.