Application nightmare: Should you tailor your cover letter for every job?

Two thirds of candidates aged 18-24 resent having to tailor their cover letter for every job application, but half of workers say that they always provide one.

New research from CV-Library finds that two thirds (66.9 per cent) of candidates between the ages of 18 and 24 find it frustrating that they have to tailor their cover letter for every job that they apply for, with 41.4 per cent believing that cover letters are unnecessary.

The research, which surveyed 1,200 workers about their attitudes towards cover letters in the job application process, finds that more than half (56.7 per cent) of candidates in the UK do tailor their cover letter for a specific job application, rising to 60.2 per cent amongst 35-44 year olds.

The majority of the nation’s workers (57.1 per cent) think cover letters are necessary, with two thirds (64.1 per cent) believing that cover letters benefit a job application. But, 43.5 per cent do find tailoring their cover letters time consuming, with 19.9 per cent believing that their CV should be enough.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, comments, ‘Across the industry, there continues to be a debate around how necessary cover letters are in the job application process. From our findings, it’s clear that many candidates understand that including a cover letter with their application is beneficial, however there is also a consensus, particularly amongst the younger generation, that it a tedious task and is far too time consuming. But, while CVs are great for an overview of work experience, it’s clear that cover letters can act as an extra platform for job hunters to shout about their successes.’

In addition, the study discovers just under one in ten (8.3 per cent) of under 18s would not apply for a job that required a cover letter, higher than any other working generation. That said the majority of candidates (92.5 per cent) would include a cover letter if it was required, with 29.7 per cent believing that a tailored cover letter is more personal, and a further 29.3 per cent agreeing that it gives relevant examples of your skills.

Interestingly, the research also reveals that nearly half (45.8 per cent) of those aged under 18 do not know how to write a cover letter, with one in five (20.8 per cent) stating that they never send a cover letter with a job application. Furthermore, one in ten candidates aged 25-34 also admitted that they don’t include a cover when applying for a new role.

Biggins concludes, ‘Clearly, there needs to be a bit more education around exactly what should be included on a cover letter, and how it can boost candidates’ chances of getting a job. It is positive, however, that the majority of UK workers would include a cover letter, and it’s important that companies and recruiters are making it easy for candidates to upload and send their CV and cover letter during the application process.’

Further reading on writing a cover letter

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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