The question of whether cover letters are still relevant remains an ongoing debate. Are they a necessary component of a job application, or are they simply relics of a bygone era? Let’s dive in and explore whether cover letters are truly dead or if they still hold value in securing your dream job. 

Are Cover Letters Dead? 

In short, the answer seems to be yes – cover letters are often considered obsolete in today’s job application process. With the rise of applicant tracking systems (ATS) and the emphasis on efficiency, many hiring managers and recruiters prioritize resumes over cover letters. In fact, some argue that cover letters rarely get read and are merely a formality. 

However, despite their declining popularity, cover letters haven’t disappeared entirely. Many organizations list on their careers page that a cover letter is required along with a resume submission. Some hiring managers view them as a way for candidates to demonstrate their professionalism and express their enthusiasm for the position. 

Should you decide you want to write a cover letter, here are some tips.  

Assess the Job Posting: Always check the job listing.  If the employer explicitly requests a cover letter, it’s in your best interest to provide one to avoid being disqualified from consideration. 

Customize Your Cover Letter: Generic cover letters are a no-go. Instead, tailor your cover letter to the specific position and company, highlighting why you’re the ideal candidate for the role. 

Provide substantive information: Use the cover letter to address any unique circumstances, such as relocation plans or career transitions. Be transparent about your intentions and readiness for a new challenge.  If you live in Boston and are applying for a position in Denver, explain your situation and be clear if you are looking to relocate. Include information on your time frame and when you can start a new position. Also, if you are applying for a position that is a career change, explain why and your enthusiasm for learning new skills.  

Keep It Concise: Hiring managers are busy, so keep your cover letter brief and to the point. Focus on showcasing your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements that align with the job requirements. Two short paragraphs are recommended.  

Show Your Personality: While maintaining a professional tone, don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your cover letter. This can help you stand out from other applicants and give hiring managers a glimpse into who you are beyond your resume. 

While cover letters may be on the decline, they’re not entirely obsolete. Whether you choose to include one in your job application ultimately depends on the preferences of the employer and your individual circumstances. By following these tips and approaching cover letters strategically, you can maximize their potential to make a positive impression and land your next job opportunity. 

Written: April 2024