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Cover Letters are Out, Pre-Employment Testing is In

Are Cover Letters Still Important In Recruiting

Cover letters have been a key part of job applications since the 1950s. As a recruiter or hiring manager, you read countless cover letters, each vying for your attention and consideration. In a sea of job applications, a well-crafted cover letter can help you separate the wheat from the chaff, right?

Because of the likelihood for applicants to lie on resumes and cover letters, many organizations have transitioned from the traditional practice of requiring cover letters to using pre-employment testing.

This shift reflects a growing recognition of the limitations of cover letters and a preference for a more objective and data-centric method of evaluating candidates’ skills and abilities.

The Disadvantages of Requiring Cover Letters in Recruitment

While cover letters have long been a staple in the hiring process, they are not without their drawbacks. These disadvantages are what recruiters should consider before adding them as a requirement in their job posts.

Potential Bias

Cover letters can introduce potential biases into the recruitment process. Subjective factors, such as writing style or personal preferences, may influence the hiring manager’s decision, leading to unfair evaluations.

Can Slow the Hiring Process

The cover letter is an additional document that hiring managers must review, which can potentially delay the hiring process.

Limited Insight

While cover letters provide an initial impression, they offer limited insight into a candidate’s technical skills and abilities. They primarily serve as a platform for self-promotion and may not accurately reflect an individual’s true competencies or performance potential.

Decreased Importance

In recent years, there has been a trend towards reducing the emphasis on cover letters in the recruitment process. Many companies have preferred to review resumes, online professional profiles such as LinkedIn and using pre-employment testing earlier in the hiring process.

Leverage Pre-Employment Testing to Objectively Evaluate What Matters MostLeverage Pre-Employment Testing to Objectively Evaluate What Matters Most

Pre-employment assessments are designed to measure candidates’ skills, abilities, and knowledge relevant to the job position. They can include various types of assessments, such as cognitive ability tests, personality tests, situational judgment tests, and technical skills tests.

There are several advantages to using pre-employment tests instead of requiring cover letters.

Focus on Core Competencies

Skills assessments allow you to target specific experiential knowledge required for the role. You can assess abilities such as Excel proficiency, spelling and grammar, or Microsoft Office knowledge. Softer skills such as emotional intelligence, personality traits, and problem-solving abilities can also be assessed. 

Standardized Evaluation

Pre-employment assessments provide a standardized and objective way to compare candidates. Scores allow you to easily identify people who have the essential skills needed to excel in the role, regardless of their background or how they present themselves in a cover letter.

Data-Driven Decisions

When it comes to screening candidates, skills assessments offer an objective way of identifying suitable applicants. Relying on data and measurable results ensures that you make informed decisions quickly and accurately.

Avoid Bias

Pre-employment testing can also help to reduce bias in the hiring process. Unlike cover letters, which can be influenced by factors such as writing style, appearance, and socio-economic background, pre-employment tests provide a level playing field for all candidates.

Best Practices for Implementing Pre-Employment Testing in Lieu of Cover Letters

To ensure the effective implementation of pre-employment testing, organizations should aim to follow these best practices:

Select Validated and Reliable Assessments

Use assessments that have been scientifically validated and proven to be reliable predictors of job performance. This ensures the accuracy and fairness of the evaluation process.

Align Tests with Job Requirements and Competencies

Carefully select assessments that directly measure the skills and competencies required for the specific job role. This ensures relevance and increases the predictive power of the testing process.

Ensure Fair and Unbiased Testing Practices

Implement measures to mitigate potential biases and ensure equal opportunities for all candidates, regardless of their background or demographic characteristics.

Combine Testing with Other Evaluation Methods

While pre-employment testing is valuable, it should be used along with with other evaluation methods, such as interviews and reference checks, to gain a deep understanding of each candidate.

Ready to Build a Hiring Process Focused on Skills, Not Cover Letters?

While cover letters have served their purpose in the past, their limitations in providing accurate and objective assessments of candidates’ abilities have become increasingly apparent. 

Try a free sample test and see how pre-employment testing offers a more reliable and unbiased approach to evaluating candidates, ensuring a fair and equitable process that focuses on job-relevant skills and competencies.