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Former HR Exec Says Cover Letters Are a Waste of Time

David Chu, Flickr

If you’re currently in the market for a job, you’ve heard the age-old advice: have a great résumé, and don’t forget to include a cover letter.

David Gaspin, the former head of talent acquisition at Conde Nast, begs to differ.

In a blog piece titled ‘Opinions are Like Cover Letters – Everybody Has One, and Most of Them are Wrong,’ Gaspin disputes everything you’ve probably heard about cover letters.

In fact, he says not only do they not matter, they won’t ever get you a job — but they could cost you one.

Barring job postings that specifically ask for a cover letter, Gaspin asserts that nine out of 10 recruiters don’t read them at all. But if you must write one, he does provide suggestions for doing so. Examples:

  • Keep it brief.
  • Don’t repeat your résumé.
  • Don’t show too much personality.
  • Don’t try to be funny.
  • Proofread it (then proofread it again).

Of course, by the time you’ve followed his advice, you’ll be left with a perfectly bland document that could’ve come from anyone — and that’s exactly his point. If that’s all you have, why bother at all?


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