Should You Ditch the Second Interview and Have Candidates Work a Half Day For You?
When People Say HR Stinks, It's Simple...Don't Stink...

Real World Stats - Cover Letters and Thank You Notes...

It's a digital world and, as a result, many candidates have forgotten all of their analog/1.0 skills.  Case in point - we are searching for an HR Coordinator to handle a good bit of the transactional load for our department, and I'd estimate that less than 15% of the 150-200 candidates who applied took the time to provide a cover letter when they submitted their resume.

This for a position with "HR" in the title?  What's the percentage for engineering positions?  5%?  1%?Thankyounote

Here's a better stat.  We interviewed six finalists from the pack of 200 applicants, and by my count, 4 provided a cover letter, one had a connection and called when applying, and one provided no cover letter.  Is it possible only the best candidates provide cover letters?  Or when we see a cover letter for a position requiring soft skills that naturally helps the candidate get to the next step?

I'd like to think so...

Others agree with the trend, and how it's easier than ever to differentiate yourself from the crowd as a result.  From Dennis Smith at The Fordyce Letter:

"Honestly, it’s intriguing. And really, I’m just curious…since when did “the experts” stop telling candidates to send thank you notes? Sure, I say that jokingly, because, even though I’ve only been at this for 12 years, it’s pretty much been like that since I joined the recruiting ranks. The Career Coaches instruct the job-seekers to follow-up with a well-written thank-you card, and, once-in-a-blue-moon somebody will walk the road less traveled and do something that blows me away.

In this case, the candidate followed up with an email within an hour of the interview, saying that she’d be delivering an appropriate thank-you. Sure enough, the next day she stops in the office with the likes of a thank-you card that, honestly, is likely the most well-written and appropriate card I’ve ever received.

Nicely done."

Here's a ray of hope from our search and the six candidates in question.  2-3 days after live interviews, 4 of the 6 candidates provided an email thank you note. 

One provided a written note as well, although it wasn't hand delivered.

We'll see who gets the job...


Jennifer McClure

It's unfortunate that in today's world, Thank You notes actually become a differentiator. As a recruiter, I always follow up with my candidates to ensure they send a hand-written note to each person at the client they met with, because those are even more rare. An email thank you is better than nothing, but a hand written note gets you remembered - because so few people do it.

As for cover letters, I never read them unless I'm interested in the resume/person, and even then I don't read them if they're too long. When candidates ask me what they should do, I tell them that a cover letter is a "check in the box". It's a flag if they don't send one, so they need to include one that is short (one or two paragraphs), and addresses the specific opportunity/their interest (not a canned letter). Most recruiters and HR pros who screen lots of resumes are already in "scan" mode, so if the cover letter isn't scannable to the eye, it's likely not to get read.

And on the Thank You note front - try being an executive recruiter! I sometimes spend hours interviewing and getting to know candidates before presenting them to my clients, and it is very rare that I get a Thank You note for my time - emailed or otherwise. Not that I'm bitter about that or anything... But you can bet I remember those who actually take the time to do so!


That is good that we are able to get the loans and it opens completely new possibilities.

The comments to this entry are closed.