Employment: is the cover letter still useful?

“It has been. » In these terms Pierre Allain speaks about the cover letter. Talent hunter at Wink, a start-up that recruits using “innovative” software on behalf of companies, he searches sales profiles for start-ups and scale-ups. His co -workers do not need a cover letter. And Pierre Allain is convinced: it is better for all companies to do the same. Especially if they are looking for profiles in difficult sectors, such as tech, where candidates are lacking. “The letter is a chore to write. One’s assignment is to take the risk of denying yourself to candidates who would rather go their way.»

Eric Gras, a labor market specialist within the job search engine Indeed France, does the same analysis. According to him, many recruiters think that by soliciting the letter, they can only get the most motivated candidate. “However, not necessarily the best writers, but those who have time to waste”, he exclaimed. He noticed that in the Anglo-Saxon and Nordic countries, recruiters hardly asked for one before the first interview.

Out of time

Another reason why the cover letter is not interesting: its content. “Candidates usually repeat there what is indicated on their CV, coated with all the ready formulas found on the Internet”, observation by Pierre Allain. Obviously, this will waste time for the candidate … and the recruiter.

Moreover, some recruiters admit it: they don’t read it. This is the case for most consultants overseen by Lydie Brunisholz, senior director at recruitment firm Page Personnel. “When we have to study unsolicited applications that come with a cover letter, we hardly read it,” he said. For lack of time, but also because what is written is rarely personalized. » Consequence: they dive directly into the CV.

But others defended the interest of the cover letter, including Benoît Serre, HRD of L’Oréal France and deputy vice-president of the National Association of HRDs. He obviously asks for this in job offers for executives, not always for others. For him, it is virtuous to show that the person is involved in the candidacy. “The danger of not asking for it is that candidates send their applications everywhere without really being motivated. It’s a bit like angling, saying ‘I’ll see where it bites’.»

For the letter to be of real interest, it must be endeavored, the candidate must show that he has learned about the company, he must show things that are not in the CV. “The letter is indecisive, it doesn’t motivate us to get to know someone, refers to Benoît Serre. It still allows those who have made an associated score to earn points. »

When applying for a position in the public sector, Guillaume* chose to attach a very personal cover letter to his application. And he seemed to be weighed in the balance. His recruiter liked it so he printed it out to share with the other team. In an interview, he told her he had the impression that he had known her a little before he met her. Guillaume has since joined the team.

A cover letter … after an interview

How can companies not need it? Do they really expect candidates to write one? Or a CV accompanied by a simple email “Hello, best regards” Is that enough? Pierre Allain advises applicants to write a few eye-catching lines in the body of the email, explaining in concrete terms how interesting their profile is for the position. “The idea is to go straight to the point, to make a pitch, even if it means using a less formal tone”, he explains. Start-ups that do not require a cover letter often have an insert provided for this purpose on their recruitment platform, which candidates are free to fill out, or not.

Lydie Brunisholz recommends taking care of the LinkedIn profile, which consultants on her team review after reading a CV that appeals to them. “As recruiters, we will look at for example whether the candidate has been recommended by former employers to the platform, and what qualities have identified him or her. »

Cover letters, ancient history, then? Not that fast … For Eric Gras, they were still useful … but after the first interview. Once the recruiter has explained the mission of the position, his expectations, the company’s values ​​… and the candidate is able to ask questions. “At that time, the candidate has more information, so more advanced things to say. He can project himself, make proposals of what he can put in place… ”evaluates the expert.

And when they don’t need one after the first meeting, Page Personnel’s Lydie Brunisholz, who however doesn’t ask for one in the first contact, invites candidates to write one despite everything. He assures us: it can (really) make it possible to stand out.

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