HR responds: Are cover letters obsolete?

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It’s no secret that hiring standards change over time. One of the latest trends is the attitude that HR has towards cover letters. What used to be a requirement is often not even requested anymore.

Recently, the Personal Touch Career Services surveyed the members of the Mile High SHRM (Society for Human Resources Management) to see what HR really thinks of cover letters.

The answers were very insightful…

Split Responses

Interesting enough, the survey respondents were split 50/50 on the cover letter issue. 50% felt that a well-written cover letter can improve a candidate’s chances with their company. However, the other 50% didn’t even ask for them or only looked at it as screening criteria… basically, those who didn’t send in a letter were screened out, but HR didn’t care about the content.

The rise of the LinkedIn profile

While HR recruiters may not actually care about your cover letter, many require that candidates send in the letter just to show their level of professionalism. Instead, many companies are migrating to using LinkedIn over the traditional cover letter. This is why 90% of employers are looking at your profile.

One of the purposes of a cover letter is to customize it to the specific job, capturing more relevant key words and highlight your top achievements. Yet more employers are defaulting to reviewing the LinkedIn profile for this additional information. In our same survey, corporate recruiters are checking the completeness of the profile, followed by the number of Skills and Endorsements:


Not only that, but your number of Recommendations and the consistency between your resume and the LinkedIn profile are paramount. While the LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to be a word-for-word recreation of the resume, it does need the facts to be consistent, such as job titles, employers, dates, and education.

So, why are they looking at Skills and Recommendations? To compare your expertise to their needs while seeing what others have to say about you.

Cover letters are not dead…yet

While it is tempting to cast aside the traditional cover letter in favor of a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, keep in mind that 50% of the employers still find them valuable. The kicker is that a stale, boring repetition of your resume is not going to do the trick. HR – and hiring managers – want to see a well-written cover letter that highlights your strengths while explaining what you can do to help them. After all, if you can prove that you can help the company make money, save money or solve problems, your chances for an interview increase exponentially.

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