Stats and Graphs: All About Cover Letters

It just occurred to me that I put out this mini-survey but then didn’t really tell a lot of people that there were results!

As of mid-December 2022, 72 people have taken this mini-survey. It’s still open, so if you’d like to take it, please take the survey here. It’s a little skewed towards organizations that do consider cover letters; please still visit the form to let us know if your organization does not consider them.

This survey is unique in that I will not be posting individual responses on the blog. Instead, you can take a look at the raw data here.

However, you might also be interested in seeing some mediocre graphs, so here you go:

Does your organization consider Cover Letters as part of job applications?  (69 responses)

Yes 88.4% (61)
No 4.3% (3)
Other 7.2% (5)

Do you ask for cover letters explicitly in the job ad or do you just expect to receive them?  (69 responses)

We ask for cover letters specifically in the job ad 66.7% (44)
We don’t specifically ask for them, but we expect to see them 8.7% (6)
We don’t specifically ask for them, but we consider them when we get them 17.4% (12)
Other 7.2% (5)

Do you expect that a cover letter will be tailored to your job opening?  (70 responses)

Yes, and it’s a dealbreaker if it’s not 37.1% (26)
Yes, but it’s not a dealbreaker 41.4% (29)
No, but it can give candidates who do tailor a real advantage 11.4% (8)
No, that seems like a lot of time and effort 1.4% (1)
Other 8.5% (6)

Compared to other parts of the application, I give the cover letter:  (70 responses)

More weight 24.3% (17)
Equal weight 54.3% (38)
Less weight 15.7% (11)
Other 5.7% (4)

How many pages should a cover letter be?  (70 responses)

We don’t ask for this 5.7% (4)
Only One! 4% (28)
Two is ok, but no more 35.7% (25)
As many as it takes, but keep it reasonable and relevant 18.6% (13)
As many as it takes, I love reading 0% (0)

What formats are ok for  cover letter be in? (check all that apply) (69 responses)

PDF 89.9% (62)
DOCX 40.6% (28)
DOCX, but PDF is really better because of formatting issues 55.1% (38)
Whatever the Mac format is 7.2% (5)
DOC 29% (20)

If you receive job applications by email, should the cover letter be included: (check all that apply) (65 responses)

In the body of the email 10.8% (7)
As an attachment 63.1% (41)
Either in the body of the email or as an attachment but not both places 20% (13)
Other 20% (13)

If your organization has automated application screening, is the automated screening also applied to cover letters? (68 responses)

Not applicable 48.5% (33)
I don’t know 36.8% (25)
Yes 2.9% (2)
No 10.3% (7)
Other 1.55 (1)

Demographics

What type of organization(s) do you hire for? (Check all that apply) (70 responses)

Academic Library 52.9% (37)
Archives 7.1% (5)
Public Library 31.4% (22)
School Library 0% (0)
Special Library 15.7% (11)
LIS Vendor 1.4% (1)
Other (Historical Society Library) 1.4% (1)

What part of the world are you in? (69 responses)

Midwestern US 27.5% (19)
Northeastern US 15.9% (11)
Southeastern US 20.3% (14)
Southwestern US 7.2% (5)
Western US 13% (9)
Canada 7.2% (5)
UK 4.3% (3)
Other 4.3% (3)

What’s your region like? (Check all that apply) (69 responses)

Urban 47.8% (33)
Suburban US 46.4% (32)
Rural 18.8% (13)
Other (virtual office, university town) 2.9% (2)

Is your workplace remote/virtual? (68 responses)

Always 1.5% (1)
Some of the time and/or in some positions 67.6% (46)
Never or not anymore 29.4% (20)
Other (in person but with virtual service to remote users) 1.5% (1)

How many staff members are at your organization? (68 responses)

0-10 14.7% (10)
11-50 25% (17)
51-100 16.2% (11)
101-200 16.2 (11)
201+ 23.5% (16)
I have no idea 2.9% (2)
Other (20+ in the library, 201+ at University) 1.5% (1)

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