A recent email I received from a job applicant prompted me to write this post.  In this email, the job applicant wrote “I applied to a job but it appears that my cover letter didn’t upload.  Can I send it to your e-mail?” A quick search on Google for cover letters pulls up a myriad of articles that either tells you how to write an effective one or pronounces their obsolescence.  In the world of B2B sales recruiting there are 3 big reasons why they are a waste of your time.

1. Recruiters Don’t Read Them.  In a previous blog post, How to Get Your Resume Noticed , I shared that the average recruiter spends only 6 seconds looking at an individual resume.  If that’s true, do you really think that they’ll take the time to read your cover letter?

And don’t just blame recruiters.  The average online user’s attention span is about the same.  The blog How Many Seconds Does Your Website Have to Capture User Attention? does a great job explaining the research and psychology behind why all online users (recruiters included) behave this way.  It also gives some clues on how to get noticed in those precious first few seconds.

2. CTS Systems Can’t Process Them.  What’s a CTS System? It stands for Candidate Tracking System and it’s basically a CRM built specifically to store, search and track job candidates.  Every larger and most smaller corporations and recruiting firms use one to store and process their candidates.  If you are applying for a job through a job board or a company’s website you will most likely be applying through their CTS system (much like the job candidate I mentioned at the start of this blog).  These systems automatically: import resumes into the CTS, parse out personal info so the candidate will be searchable and dump extraneous info (such as cover letters).  Unless you are directly emailing the hiring manager; your cover letter will never see the light of day.

3. Most Cover Letters Stink.  One of the big reasons recruiters don’t read cover letters is that most are painfully bad.  The typical one is full of skills, adjectives, painfully formal language and short on meat.  Whoever taught America how to write them did the few that do it well a huge disservice.

When should you write a cover letter anyway?

Simple.  When you know it will be read (think of a smaller company that gets a small number of applications or submission directly to the hiring manager) AND when you’re confident that it will deliver an impact.  Do your homework and speak directly to: how you have moved the needle in similar roles and get specific as to why you’re interested in this role with this company.