30 May 2019, 11:13

Career Advice for a Data Scientist: Are cover letters still relevant?

This is part one of a two-part recruitment blog series. In this installment, we discuss cover letters. Do you really have to write one? Are they still relevant? We introduce alternatives to cover letters.

In this two-part blog series, we discuss CVs and cover letters. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please post them on the discussion board.

Do you need a cover letter?

There is a mixed opinion about cover letters and the value they provide. Some say they are a “have to have” as they provide insight into who the candidate is. Cover letters can help companies know if you will fit in with the team. However, from a recruiter’s perspective (not all recruiters), a cover letter is of little to no value in the hiring process (controversial!). We focus on CVs.

Consider the number of applicants recruiters receive EVERY SINGLE DAY. If they were to open every attachment ever sent to us, they would NEVER get through their workload. On average, most recruiters spend about 10 to 20 seconds on each CV before making a judgement call on whether they should keep reading.

If your top skills are buried at the bottom of your CV or if the relevant information is not obvious on your CV, you might be passed over even if you are highly suitable for the position.

If the recruiter doesn’t even read the whole CV, what are the chances that they will read your cover letter?

Our advice:

Instead of a cover letter, consider this. Tailor your CV to every job application. Elaborate on the information in your background, skills, and experience to suit the role you apply to. Then you will be more likely to be invited to an interview based on your CV. In the interview, you can charm them with your personality and show them your true character.

How to tailor your CV to demonstrate that you are a good fit:

Create a sub-heading in your CV called “Profile” or “About me.” Here you can write a short snapshot of who you are:

  • Your character,
  • Traits,
  • Personality type,
  • Careers wants and ambitions

When you apply to a specific job include a snapshot of why you are interested and include your top 5 punchy bullet points. These can be your:

  • Most relevant skills and/or,
  • Experience, as it relates to the position you are applying for.

Now recruiters only have to open one document!

AI Unity is a South Africa based specialist recruitment company whose focus is on the niche Data Science, Machine Learning and AI spaces. AI Unity takes a candidate-focused approach. Our intention is to walk the career journey with candidates over the years. Zindi is happy to announce a partnership with AI Unity to provide all-round career support and guidance to the Zindi community.

We hope you enjoyed the content above and, more importantly, the insights provided helped you in one way or another. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have more questions? Head on over to the discussion page! Look out for the next blog where we go into detail on CVs.

About the Author:

Matt Mallett is the Managing Director of AI Unity. AI Unity shares the belief that Data Science, ML and AI are going to become the predominant technology bases of the future. We launched in January of this year and we have been engaging with Chief Data Officers and Chief Data Scientists across a range of industries across the world. We’ve been asked to look at support projects in Australia, France, Switzerland, Canada, Singapore, South Africa and across Africa.

Matt is available to the Zindi community for career advice, CV reviews, job searches, or a chat about where the AI job market is heading. You can reach him at matt@ai-unity.com.