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Is the Cover Letter dead?

Is the Cover Letter dead?

Don't judge a book by its cover, but should you judge an applicant by their cover letter?

The world of recruitment is constantly changing and the application "norms" are a thing of the past. With applications filtering through Snapchat or Instagram, interviews conducted on Facetime or SKYPE or even the traditional interview questions being torn up and thrown away for more creative and invention methods it's hard to know what to expect.

In 2018 will the cover letter really be needed?

Remember the good old days when applying for a job meant seeing an advert in the paper and then actually printing off your CV and Cover letter, getting yourself a stamp and submitting it through to the employer. You wouldn't have even considered doing anything else right? The employer told you how to apply and you simply did as instructed, now things are a little bit more grey. 

Employers are no longer being so closed off with their applications, leaving it more open to the applicant whether or not to add a cover letter, your portfolio of work or links to your Linkedin account. Does that mean the employer isn't looking for those extras? 

With so many people having an opinion either way it's hard to know which is the right way to go - to cover or not to cover! I've made it slightly easier to "under cover" (poor pun I know) whether or not you should bother with a covering letter.


Pros of the Cover Letter

  • Your career needs to be the perfect fit, so tailoring is key! 

A cover letter is a fantastic tool to evidence how you custom fit the role you have just applied for. You are essentially writing a letter directly to the hiring manager detailing why you are the right candidate for the job and showcasing how your skills are bespoke to the job specification.
Essentially, it is a one page summary making it clear why you should be hired; you're doing the hard work for the employer! Meaning the employer doesn't have to go searching in your CV for why you fit or match their requirements, instead the cover letter can neatly and quickly answers all their questions, showing why you are perfect for the role.

  • It shows you made an effort

How many things does this statement apply to, bringing a bottle when invited over for dinner at a friends, dressing up for a family do or sending that congrats text when someone passes a test. Every little action makes a big impact and this is 100% true in the job search. The race is so tight between the wealth of qualified and relevant applicants for each job so why wouldn't you want to do anything extra that would put points in your favour. 
Isn't it worth an hour or so extra spent on a cover letter to stand out from the crowd. I mean what else can you do with an hour! 

  • 2 for the price of 1, everyone loves extra. 

Do you always opts for large when ordering a take out? Your CV should never be longer than 2 sides of A4 but how do you fit a life time of experience in just two pages (Harry Potter had 7 books and he only ever got through high school)

The cover letter is that cheeky extra that gives you a whole additional page to detail and explain your passion for the role and why the employer should select you. We all want more face time with the employer and the cover letter gives that much needed surplus page space.


Cons of the Cover Letter

  • All good things come in small packages

When it comes to the application stage, applicant can get into the habit of waffling or simply just repeating their CV in their cover letter. Just because it was note worthy or leaped out the page first time round it doesn't mean it will have the same affect twice. Although important to be detailed in your application being clear and concise is essential. The hiring manager is looking for you to get to the point and quickly! You don't want to be skipped over because your opener was too much of a slow starter.

  • What is it adding?

If it isn't adding it is taking away when it comes to the job search. You need to bin all the made up qualifications, irrelevant jobs such as paper rounds from 20 years ago in your resume and stick to what's important and what is going to get you hired.
A CV and cover letter should not be about meeting a word count quota, there is no bonus for hitting 1000 words, instead it is all about quality over quantity.
Really look at your cover letter and ask yourself would this make an employer want to hire me? if not ,it shouldn't be there. 
Like a spring clean for your career you need to lose what isn't needed. An old, outdated application won't fit again in the same way those jeans in the back of your wardrobe won't be worn again. 

So are we Pro or Con?

Personally I think the time of the "traditional cover letter" is over but that doesn't mean I think the content is redundant, it just needs a sprucing up and a touch of a more contemporary edge. Soon the Cover letter will be a comment on your Instagram post or a footer on your video application. But for now why not keep it simple. 
Basically add more depth into your introduction email or LinkedIn message to showcase why the employer should click that attachment to your CV. Your CV can't do all the talking especially if the employer isn't inspired to open up your resume and it never sees the light of day.

Give the employer a reason to click and stay engaged, you need to make that introduction or "cover letter" the best click bait out there.

Related Reading:

Cover Letter - What you should include?

CV Writing


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