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SURPRISE + Cover letters: do recruiters really need them?

Cover letters have always been one of the popular topics in every recruiting debate and discussion. In episode twenty five of The Tea on Recruiting, our bi-weekly video series for recruiters, we would love to, together with you, discuss this topic as well. We hope our video below will inspire you. If you want to search for sources we used in the episode, or you might want to read the content in details, feel free to go through our transcript. Happy watching and reading!


Hi everyone, welcome back to The Coffee On Recruitment, where we share inspiring and intelligent content for recruiters like you! I’m your new host Lars, and today we’ll talk about how… Hey! Come one! Ouch! Stop it! It’s my turn now! Ouch!

Hey! Guys? Guys, what’s going on?! Who let Lars in here?! Can someone escort him back to his office, please? I bet he has some CEO-ing to do. Sorry for the confusion, folks – our CEO tried to play host; but we’re back on track now. Today we’ll talk about Cover Letters. Do we need them? Really? Do we? Let’s see.

Welcome back to the Tea on Recruiting, clears throat, where we share insightful and thought-provoking content that can help you shape your recruiting career!

Before we move on we’d like to quickly touch upon some news we’ll dive deeper into later in the video. With today’s episode we are about 6 months and 2.5 hours’ worth of videos in, with several thousands of views. After this episode, we’ll be taking a short break from the show, but let’s not get emotional – we’ll leave the larger part of the tea-spilling for the very end. Everything is going to be ok, I promise.

Let’s start with our first piece of content!

Is a Cover Letter Necessary in 2021?

So… a while back I was having a conversation with Bhani Jalkrish and she brought up an interesting question: Are cover letters necessary? Let’s see! First off, we read “Is a Cover Letter Necessary in 2021? Do I Need a Cover Letter?”. Let me share some stats with you, ok? According to a ResumeLab study, 83% of recruiters consider cover letter important for their hiring decisions. 83% of the time a great cover letter can help candidates get the interview even if their resume isn’t good enough. Hold tight, 72% of recruiters expect a cover letter even when declared optional. So far, it really sounds like cover letters are relevant, but 26% of recruiters actually don’t read them at all. 6 out of 10 candidates don’t write cover letters despite them being a very frequent requirement, which tells us that candidates don’t find it to be a particularly pleasing experience. Now, mostly, recruiters think cover letters are needed to share one’s motivation to join the company:

  1. to describe their career objectives
  2. to explain the reasons for changing careers, employment gaps
  3. to highlight professional achievements

We’re not done discussing cover letters, but let’s move on to our second article for today:

2017 Job Seeker Nation Study

We checked out the “2017 Job Seeker Nation Study”. According to JobVite data, only 26% of recruiters consider cover letters important in their decision to hire. Are you as confused as I am? There’s more: 47% of candidates didn’t submit a cover letter with their current or most recent job applications.

Can we try and make sense of it? Putting together these pieces, we can see how:

  • It’s hard to tell how many recruiters actually care for cover letters; and, do they care because they think they’re important, or because they think it shows whether a candidate cares about the job?
  • Cover letters can help clarify ambiguities; for instance, when it comes to resume’ gaps or career changes.
  • Many candidates refuse to write them.

Are cover letters really important? Maybe it depends on the role and the required skillset: not everyone should be expected to be a great writer. So, how about alternatives? Instead of considering cover letters as a box to check, what about adding some optional fields the candidates could fill in while applying? The job applicants could use them to explain a resume’ gap or a change of career or leave them empty if their resume’ was linear enough.

What is your opinion? We’d like to know whether you think cover letters are useful and if you have any alternative options on your mind.

Now onto the…

CandE Crash

The more barbaric your treatment of candidates, the more demonic their posts about you.

A little birdie wrote something about your approach to… transparency and I wish I had some palo santo because the vibes aren’t good. Let’s see.

“A month ago, I applied to a job that didn’t have the payrate posted. I got a call last week and was asked to attend an interview. I inquired about pay in the phone screening to which the HR rep answered “that will be discussed during the interview”,

I got dressed up, drove out 45 minutes to the interview, to be given a non-starter pay-rate, with “no discretion” to increase it. “Thank you for your time, but I’m no longer interested”, was my response and I left. Whole thing took 10-15 minutes if that. The reason I went to the interview is because my last job surprised me with decent pay even though it wasn’t listed in the job ad. I’m unemployed, not stupid or desperate. What benefit do they gain by doing this?

I love the jobs that post:

Laundry list of responsibilties and duties require 68 years of relevant experience: 2 Bachelor degree, an MBA, and a PhD in ballistic neuroscience (preferred)*

Payrate: $14.76/hr, but we have quarterly pizza parties at the office!

Because then I can just giggle and scrolling instead of doing what I listed above.”

Do I really need to add anything? Talking about salaries at the beginning of the hiring process isn’t crass – it shows respect for your candidates’ time and abilities. Be transparent.

Earlier on we said we’d take a short break after this episode. Well, this is this season’s finale. Not the shows, just the season. You, Tea on Recruiting aficionados, won’t leave our minds for one second. We’ll keep on looking into cool things we can share with you in the next season.

What can you do?

  • If you have cool ideas about things we should make episodes on, send me a DM on my LinkedIn (you can find me as Elena Galli) or by dropping me an email at
  • Subscribe to our newsletter! – we’ll keep you posted on the exact date of the 2nd season’s launch – and we’ll share cool content, as we always do. You can find it linked below or at

We’ll be back in a jiffy!

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