Complete the Head & Heart Leader Scale™ and receive a free, personalised report here.

Got a Minute?

Home | Got a Minute | Pay and remuneration | No. 54 – Are cover letters a thing of the past?

No. 54 – Are cover letters a thing of the past?

Share this aticle

6 April 2022

I have always been told that writing cover letters for a new job is a must. These days, most jobs I apply for are online and I doubt anyone is even reading them. So are cover letters still a thing or do you reckon they are a waste of time?

You are not alone in wondering whether cover letters are a thing of the past with an increasing number of job-seekers wondering if there is any point to them these days. But one recent survey showed that 83 per cent of recruiters believed cover letters were important for their hiring decision and said a good cover letter could help someone get the interview – even if their resume wasn’t good enough. So even if the application says a cover letter is optional, I recommend you include one since it’s a smart way for you to explain why you’re perfect for the role outside the context of the basic facts in your resume. Cover letters let you explain why you want to join the company and describe any career achievements. Just make sure your cover letter and resume are easy to read. Eye-tracking studies of recruiters found that the average time spent reviewing a resume is 7.4 seconds so you don’t have long to catch their attention. Good luck!

I have worked in my admin role for 2.5 years with no review of my hourly pay and have heard that a new employee was recently hired earning 70 per cent more than me. This particular new person is the partner of a manager and is no more qualified than me. I have also taken on most tasks of another colleague who left a year ago. I’m basically doing twice the amount of work I was employed for. Am I right to feel like I’m being taken advantage of?

OK, let’s step through this and sort your question into what is known and what sounds like rumours. You know for sure that (a) your pay hasn’t been reviewed in 2.5 years and (b) your job scope has changed significantly in that time. On those two points alone, you have a right to feel it is well past time to renegotiate. On the other issue, it sounds like gossip. The fact they are in a relationship with a boss is always going to be a source of discontent and rumours. My advice is to separate that issue from your own situation and focus on what you can control. You are clearly feeling that your employer isn’t valuing the work you do and I believe you have good reason to feel that way. I think you need to have a conversation with your boss to explain how your role has changed and how long it’s been since your pay was reviewed. You might also want to set up a future review period so you know that every 12 months, for example, there will be a time for you both to sit down and talk about your job scope and conditions. If you don’t get a good hearing or you continue to feel you’re being taken advantage of, it may be time for you to find a new job where you feel more valued.

I am a consultant and since the pandemic, I do all my work remotely. I love it for the flexibility and because I can live wherever I want. My clients don’t mind that I am not physically in the office so it is all good from that perspective. The downside is I don’t spend much time face-to-face with other professionals where I would previously have built useful networks. I would love to find a mentor but I don’t know how to start given we work virtually. I’m considering contacting people I admire via social media to ask if they might be prepared to be a mentor. Is this something you recommend?

You have raised a really interesting predicament of “remote-first” work. LinkedIn reported that searches for mentees and mentors doubled during the first half of January 2022 compared with the same period a year ago. My recommendation to help find a mentor is to contact people you admire and ask their advice about an area of mutual interest. If they are open to connecting, you might then be able to ask if they are open to spending a short amount of time in a “virtual” coffee to understand more about the topic of mutual interest. I would avoid trying to pressure them to be your mentor. I know from personal experience receiving cold call messages from strangers asking if I will mentor them that it always feels like they are asking me to buy a house together before we have even been on a date! A good mentor knows that they need to have the time to put into the relationship. There also needs to be a bit of chemistry so try to connect over something else first and then, if there is a natural fit, you may end up catching up again and a natural mentor relationship will evolve.

Send your questions about work, careers and leadership to Your name and any identifying information will not be used. Letters may be edited.

Link to original

Share this aticle
Got a Minute

Ask a Question

You can submit your own question anonymously.

Read Got a Minute

Every Wednesday since 2021, Kirstin has written a hugely popular column in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age answering curly questions from readers on work, leadership and careers. 

Latest Got a Minute

Stay in touch

Join many thousands around the world who have subscribed to Dr Kirstin Ferguson’s free weekly newsletter, Impact Loop.

As a bonus, you will receive the introduction to her award-winning and bestselling book, Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership, to download for free.
©2023 Kirstin Ferguson Pty Ltd
Privacy Policy