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Could cover letters be old news for the tech industry?

By Lina Arshad

The debate around whether cover letters are essential for job applications has long been under discussion across the global jobs market, with applicants torn over whether these can put them in greater stead or not. But with the tech market currently challenged with a digital skills gap that needs bridging as soon as possible, and a subsequent influx of opportunities cropping up for tech professionals everywhere, this demand versus supply issue has seen companies everywhere reviewing their recruitment processes to ensure they have the best chances of attracting top talent.  

So, it’s possible many organizations are asking themselves how best to streamline their application process, and more specifically, revisiting the age-old question: is a cover letter actually essential for a tech job? And should tech professionals be taking the time to write them for each role they’re applying for? We wanted to investigate the modern workforce’s take on this.  

Deep diving into our network comprised of both tech professionals and recruiters, we conducted research to gauge current attitudes towards cover letters and their necessity in today’s tech world. The survey was conducted via a poll on the our LinkedIn page in October 2022 and yielded 824 responses in total. 

Our results revealed that most of the respondents didn’t see cover letters as essential. In fact, only a very small minority consider them an important part of the application process, and the remaining percentage believe it depends on a case-by-case basis. 

Results 

Q: What do you think about cover letters? 

Response %
Completely unnecessary 64%
Very beneficial 10%
It depends 26%

In light of these results, our Chairman and CEO, James Lloyd-Townshend commented:

 

“Attitudes towards cover letters have really shifted over the last decade, particularly when it comes to tech recruitment. Cover letters definitely have some upsides, namely the potential to help an applicant stand out at the preliminary stage of the recruitment process and therefore receive an invitation to interview. But it’s also true that there is some overlap between the purpose of a cover letter and the purpose of an interview. They’re both about getting to know the person behind the credentials on the resumé.

 

 

“Skipping the cover letter can make for a more expedient process, saving work for both recruiter and candidate alike. This has become increasingly important in tech because speed is often of the essence – especially when businesses need to pursue digital transformation projects to keep pace with the market. That 64% majority is focused on those realities, I would say. At the same time, cover letters will likely remain useful in some scenarios – where an organization is moving more steadily towards long-term planning goals, for example.”

Want further insight into the Microsoft industry? Check out the Nigel Frank Careers and Hiring Guides 2023—our reports are the largest independent studies of their kind and provide fresh data from employees and employers operating in the sector across topics such as salary data, certifications, perks and benefits, and much more.

You can download them for free below:

Read our Careers and Hiring Guide: Microsoft 365 & Azure Edition 2023

Read our Careers and Hiring Guide: Business Applications Edition 2023

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