What are your honest thoughts on cover letters - are they outdated, or even relevant at this point? Do you look at them?

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I never read them as a recruiter, however, I think that any of my candidates that had taken the time to do a quality cover letter that laid out why they are interested and why they are a fit, usually performed better in interview because they had already spent time thinking about the fit.

They are nice in theory. When I'm reviewing candidates for a job that I'm hiring for, I only look at cover letters under 2 criteria:
1) it's a supervisor/manager role
2) there are more than 10 applicants
If it's a lower level job, I find most people don't include cover letters.

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I hate them, personally!

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Same. I don’t want to “hear” the brag or read the fluff. I want to see the resume and move on.

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I don't have time to read them, they're all the same template basically repeating their resume or bragging, sometimes it even shows they're a bad communicator and it actually hurts their chances. Only time I find it relevant if they're changing industries or have a career gap or something they need to explain.

What I do enjoy getting is portfolios and I think its getting more popular since I've been getting them more often (for non design roles/roles that dont traditionally require one). Instead of cover letters I've gotten slides of projects they've worked on that really lets me see in detail what their resume can't show in words.

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When I was a recruiter I never even opened them. I just need to see if you have relevant experience or not.

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They are completely outdated. I only do them now if someone specifically asks for one. As a hiring manager, I don't even look at them if someone sends one in.

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Cover letters have run their course. I'd rather read a straight-to-the-point resume. No need for flowery words.

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They don't hold as much weight as they once did, because I may also scan someone's social media profiles, or be looking for a very specific skill set on their resume.

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By social media I hope you mean only LinkedIn bc outside of that it isn't work related and highly inappropriate unless they actually direct you to it on their resume.

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I would be impressed if I received one. I do like to see cover letters for positions that requiring good writing skills.

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Depends on the industry. I’d say create one and have it in your back pocket. You can always adjust it to the role if needed. I see this more as a requirement is academic environments. Bottom line, have one you can work quickly if needed.

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I agree with this comment. And DEFINITELY ensure you do not send one to a recruiter or hiring manager addressed to someone of a different name. ( You may be surprised how many do this)
Also if you send one, ensure it is customized for the particular role you are applying to.

likesmart

I never look at them

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I will not read cover letters - I’m trying to skim 50+ resumes a week, I want to see concise statements with lots of details (tech tool experience, data around sales numbers, etc)

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Waste my time by writing a thoughtful cover letter , to NOT even get an interview. Screw those co we letters!!

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Basically ignore them completely, to be perfectly honest.

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As a person who use to recruit, cover letters are meaningless

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I don't believe they are necessary for most roles. I take cover letters with a grain of salt and typically uncover the information I need during an interview. However, I do think they make sense for some high-level or extremely specialized positions.

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I like them. Gives the applicant a chance to clarify and red flags or talk themselves up if their qualifications don’t meet the requirements at first glance.

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True, but the cover letter gets you to the interview.

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Personally, just why?
All pertinent information is on the resume.

Some of my hiring managers very much like them so it still serves a purpose with some.

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My perspective: Outdated, not very many hiring managers I know even open them. Seen more as an optional document to provide. Unless an organization requires it, I don’t recommend anyone to bother with it.

Talent Acquisition/HR Professionals: From my experience, most still think they are effective. Almost all never view them during the screening/interviewing process.

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I hate them; I don't pass them along to the client. I don't have that kind of time to review them and ensure that they are grammatically correct for either clients or hiring managers. We even review thank you letters from the candidates to hiring managers just in case.

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Useful if you are changing industries - I appreciate reading one when someone is seeking a career change.

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I get 200-300 applications per position. I will go out of my way to talk to someone who took the time to write a cover letter and I am 100% talking to someone who follows up on their application.

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