Cover Letters, Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

Recently I posted a job seeking a human resources administrator in which I specifically requested a cover letter be submitted with a resume. As the applications started pouring in I noticed the conspicuous absence of cover letters. Unsurprisingly this was nothing new so I continued the tricky task of identifying which applicants are best suited. However, on this occasion one particular resume caught my eye, it looked too good to be true, which by the way means it probably is. A short concise objective, relevant work history and impressive qualifications, but alas, no cover letter. So I found myself facing a small dilemma, do I or don’t I call the applicant and ask for one? My initial instinct was no, but my head said yes. Now this is where it all went wrong! The applicant answered the phone abruptly like I was a telemarketer trying to sell life insurance and to add insult to injury I was told in no uncertain terms that a cover letter was not even requested in the job listing! Taken a back I politely thanked the applicant for their time and hung up the phone. Lesson learnt!

As recruiters, we just don’t have the time to call every applicant, so asking for a cover letter is one way to determine who is actually serious about applying for the position. Even if you believe writing one is a waste of time, requesting one will help you to determine which applicants have actually taken the time to thoroughly read the job description and put the time and effort into writing one. Yes, its true, writing a cover letter is your opportunity to grab my attention and highlight your suitability for the position, but for the recruiter it’s also another way to separate the wheat from the chaff. 


James Kerr
Recruitment Executive        

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