Recruiting News

Do Cover Letters Matter? Maybe Not So Much

In yesterday’s Advisor, we looked at a survey suggesting that the best candidates often come from referrals. Today, we’ll look at the rest of the survey.


The survey reports that 78% of recruiters find their best quality candidates through referrals. This is up from 60% in 2014. Following along, 41% of recruiters plan to invest more in referrals in 2016.

Recruiters use these employee incentives to help keep referrals coming in and the candidate pipeline full:

After referrals, recruiters find their best candidates through social and professional networks (56%) and intern-to-hire programs (55%).

Still Interviewing

A full 96% of recruiters still count on face-to-face interviews, and 93% rely on résumés. However, status quo assessments are not enough, says Jobvite®; recruiters are diving deeper to understand candidates. For example, 27% of respondents used personality tests, 25% required sample assignments, 22% used knockout questions, and 19% used video interviews.

In addition, respondents mentioned the following when asked, “What leaves a lasting impression on you?”

Interestingly, respondents attached fairly low importance to cover letters and GPAs. (63%  ranked cover letters as 1 or 2 on a scale of 1–5 of importance, with 5 being very important, and 57% gave those low importance rankings to GPAs.

On the other hand, fairly high importance (ranked as a 4 or 5 on a scale of 1–5 of importance, with 5 being very important) was given to culture fit (88%), previous job experience (87%), references (51%), and STEM skills (48%).

The JobVite survey showed that different industries prioritize different factors. For example, education respondents ranked advanced degrees and racial diversity especially high. Health care also ranked advanced degrees high. Hospitality ranked culture fit and diversity high. Government also ranked diversity high.

Social Media is the Gold Mine

Social Media is a gold mine for recruiters, JobVite concludes. Here is what respondents said they notice: