The Hiring Experience

Evolution of Employment: The Decline of the Cover Letter

August 10, 2023 Max & Mike Episode 5
The Hiring Experience
Evolution of Employment: The Decline of the Cover Letter
Show Notes Transcript

Are cover letters becoming obsolete? We, Max and Mike, dive headfirst into this controversial question in our latest podcast episode of The Hiring Experience. With the evolution of hiring practices and changing times, we argue that the traditional cover letter has lost its relevance. It's an age-old formality that has turned into a meaningless chore for applicants and a source of unnecessary friction in the hiring process. 

We invite you to join our thought-provoking discussion as we explore alternatives to cover letters. We challenge the notion that these letters demonstrate effort and commitment, suggesting instead the need for effective 'effort checks'. We emphasize aligning the hiring process with the job role and making it accessible to all potential applicants. It's high time we move past 'this is how we do things' and rethink our hiring strategies to attract, select, and retain the best talent. Tune in for this exciting episode, and let's revolutionize the way we hire, together!

We love to hear your hiring experience, whether you're a hiring manager with 100s of hires, about to make your first hire, or an applicant that has a story to tell. Share your stories with Max & Mike at hiringexperiencepod@gmail.com

This podcast and the matters discussed herein are for informational purposes only and should not to be construed as advice for a particular company or person. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional or legal advice.

Speaker 1:

This is the Hiring Experience the podcast that helps you break down the art and science of hiring. Hosted by Max and Mike friends, founders and creators of rapid hiring, on a mission to bring an end to the resume, bringing you tactical advice to help you attract, select and retain the best talent. This podcast and the matters discussed herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice for a particular company or person. This podcast is not intended to be a substitute for professional or legal advice.

Max:

All right, the most outdated part of the hiring process, or one of it, if not the most outdated thing, at least some have stopped accepting it, but some still want it. On top of your resume, the cover letter, this thing that we're going to write that says I want this job because I want this job.

Mike:

The Articles of Incorporation of a Human.

Max:

Okay. So the simple point here is that this doesn't have to be drawn out is that if you're asking for a cover letter, you need to actually specify what you want them to write about, because if it's just a generic cover letter, that's what it says. It says I want this job because I want this job, because I think I'll be good at this job. Nobody's going to write you a letter that says maybe I'll be good at it, I don't know, I don't care really, because that person didn't finish the application. And so, as a theme running theme with a lot of things we talk about is that if you're going to ask somebody for something, make sure you have a reason for it.

Max:

Besides, this is the way we do things, in that when you're asking people for more information, know why you're asking for that information, have a purpose and maybe a drawn direct question if you really really want it. But at the end of the day, you're not getting anywhere with this cover letter. You're just asking them for homework, more effort, which is fine. I understand you want people to show effort in your hiring process, but a templated, generic letter is not going to do that for you. It doesn't imply anything anymore. It doesn't show anything anymore. And in the world of chat, gpt people are probably just going in, copy and paste your job description in and say write me a cover letter, and then they're going to send you that cover letter.

Max:

And so they might not even change a single word of it.

Mike:

You'll probably think it's really well written.

Max:

It's going to be perfect, or at least should be. And if you actually probably read all your cover letters, you might get two or three of the exact same cover letter, and that's when you know. And if that's the case, then it's really time to just throw it to the side and move on to bigger and better things. And so, if you are going to throw it out, what do you do next? Because, like we said, people like the effort check. You want your candidates to be doing something and not just I clicked one click, apply All right, that means I'm interested in this job.

Mike:

Yeah, and we think that there's much better ways to implement effort checks for your candidates adding a little bit of friction to your process, because ultimately, that's what you're trying to do with the cover letter. Right, you're trying to add some friction to your process. You're not actually like you understand that you're not gaining a whole lot of information, so the primary function is adding that friction and really it feels more like doing a book report in grade seven than giving an employer something of value. So I went home, I read your job description and here's my homework on. It Isn't really a grown up way to go about things here. So implementing different ways to do these effort checks is going to yield much better results for you. We have some different ways to do these that we can talk about.

Max:

And having them tailored to the role that you're looking to fill and not just a generic effort check, because if it's not, say, a computer based role, having them do more computer work, is not really a verification of anything. And so, again, aligning your hiring goals and your strategy with the role you are trying to fill and not just having this is how we hire here, from the entry level position all the way up to our directors and vps and some of the feedback I've got over because I've had we've had pushback because we've in our own dealings, we've eliminated these things from the process altogether.

Mike:

I received some pushback from that and some objections and whatnot, and one of them that stood out to me was what we need the cover letter, because some people have published articles and the cover letter is a place for them to tell me about it and I don't understand why you don't just have them send you the articles if that's the case, or the what they want is they want a candidate to put in effort.

Max:

I, as the hiring manager, would like to do no things. I would like no effort. I want to just know. You wrote an article.

Max:

I am never going to read that article, I don't even care if it's real. Probably might as well just make some shit up and so, because at the end of the day, that's what a cover letter is. We just make some shit up and so from there, that effort check like you said, if you're gonna ask them for an effort check and that's probably that's a really good point to make is like, when asking for it, make sure that you're also reciprocating that effort Into the candidates application and giving them that due respect to the point of they put in this effort for the role. I should put in this effort To vet and qualify them and whether or not they are qualified as a whole other thing, but actually returning that, and then you'll find I think you'll find that your Alignment will increase as well, because you will find it's like anything, if you put it out into the world with that effort, you're likely to get it back.

Mike:

As you start actually qualifying and looking into the effort that you're asking your candidates to put in for you, it will become much clear as to what you actually need From an information perspective for evaluating your candidates, not just what has always been needed by everyone in line before you that has hired for this role or that has looked for this role. So as you put in that effort and as you go out and you know if you're gonna ask people to include some, some publishings or something, if you go, look for them and you read them, you'll understand if that's something that stupid or not. Do you need to read the publishings or is it just knowing that they've done publishings and if it's just knowing about them and you probably don't need to know about?

Max:

The other thing that we didn't touch on here is that there is one component of asking for cover letters that is something that most people would claim that they try to do and we should all try to do and that's being accessible and making your hiring process accessible. So if you're requiring an extremely typed out Letter, that might not be something that every applicant who could be qualified for your job is actually able to do, and so you are discouraging and eliminating a potential pool of applicants with a check that is a relevant to the role you're looking to fill, and so, again and again we talk about is like aligning your hiring process with the job you're trying to fill.

Mike:

And from a candidate perspective, to, if you're somebody out there that's applying for roles that are requiring these cover letters, I would, I would implore you to challenge the reason why. Right right, like the cover letter, may have once served a purpose, changing times and hiring practices, actively suggesting that they're becoming obsolete. So I would implore you to build tangible skills that can be demonstrated in your interviews, in your work samples and yeah.

Max:

As we think, we'd like to think, they went out of date. When the typewriter went out of date and since you could tell, once you had to template and could template your cover letter, it didn't matter anymore. And now that you can have something else right, right it for you it really doesn't matter. So make sure you are checking your process, your hiring strategy, to align it with what you're trying to do.

Speaker 1:

Thank you for listening to the hiring experience. We hope you enjoyed this episode and learned something new about the art and science of hiring. Don't forget to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast player. This helps others discover the show. Share with a friend, colleague or anyone going through the hiring experience Right now. Share your hiring experience with us at hiringexperiencepod at gmailcom.