Research: the impact of your cover letter

We asked 15 hiring design managers from tech companies to rate 300 applications (product designers).

Our goal was to find out the degree of influence of the cover letter on the success of the response to the vacancy.

In short: the impact is huge. More than 60% of responses will end up in the trash, and some will even end up in spam.

The main factors that affect the success of a cover letter are confirmed facts about professional achievements, an understanding of the daily routine of a designer in a product team, proven knowledge and application of development process and technologies, accuracy of presentation/portfolio.

Research setup

We asked 15 hiring design managers to rate 300 applications.

Applicants responded to the unified description of a product designer job.

No limitations on how and what the applicants were writing about themselves. They could publish any contact information they wanted, any links and an unlimited amount of text.

Key takeaways

Experts research (hiring managers)

Hiring managers were from the tech companies like Acronis, Arrival, Intercom, Miro, Sberbank, Yandex, Revolut, Raiffeisenbank and like.

They were seven women and eight men; they were making decisions on hiring people for their departments, and they've all shared one field of expertise: digital product design.

Experts could answer "Yes," "No," or mark an application as "Spam."

Here's how the UI looked like:

The algorithm and research process

Each application was rated by at least seven experts. The algorithm distributed applications evenly between women and men (experts) four times, and three times between random experts, to even the odds.

Each applicant received a weighted score of their chances of being invited to an interview, based on the number of upvotes to downwotes proportion and lookalike analysis (a dash of machine learning).

Applicants research

After we've got initial applications rated by experts, we invited applicants to rate each other and compared the results. On average, applicants downvote each other 25% more, so non-experts ratings are lower.

The key finding was that applicants learned a lot about how to write better introductions and what was important and what was not. They've learned that by doing, not theory.

The other important thing was that a lot of people suffer from zero feedback after they apply. Lack of feedback of any kind prevents good candidates from growing professionally and builds frustration.

This exercise gave them at least some feedback in the form of stats, and they could learn from the community (other applicants) what is important in their own stories and what is not.

Stats/results

Test your cover letter for free

We've updated our research platform into the public web service and you can apply your story and read/rate others, get your stats in return.

Test your cover letter. Free.