“Don’t send a cover letter. No one reads those.”
Really, not one person anywhere in the whole wide world? Yeah, I hear what people say too.
Here’s what I do when I think I’ve heard a line of crap — I weigh those “blanket” comments against what I see, hear, and have experienced myself. Are companies in Silicon Valley, those receiving upwards of 1,000 resumes (job applications) per day accepting cover letters too? Probably not. But for most of us who live in the everyday, non-glitter, mostly small to medium business parts of the world, cover letters are still wanted and needed — and asked for.
There are small/medium businesses (SMBs) for example that can’t afford talent management systems or recruiters and therefore conduct the hiring process with what some might call the “old-fashioned” way; and yes, they still ask for cover letters! A few from my area that come to mind include banks, insurance agencies, community college, and so on. Heck, I recently had lunch with a recruiter friend who placed a candidate after receiving the individual’s resume and cover letter by postal mail. Yup, snail mail! There are folks that say the US postal service is dead too, but that doesn’t make it true for everyone, everywhere.
I suppose my point is this: because cover letters are less popular, or unwanted in some industries doesn’t mean they are obsolete or ineffective across all others. Will cover letters become obsolete? Yeah, I suspect they will — much like I believe the resume has a shelf life too.
Do a quick search at your favorite job board to see for yourself — thousands and thousands of job postings on Indeed for example are still asking for cover letters. And, you might also consider that the keyword “cover letter” is still one of the most highly searched career keywords on Google.
The following is a snapshot of Google Trends’ results for the key phase “cover letter.” Since 2004, those searching for help with their cover letters via Google has remained virtually consistent, which lends to the evidence that cover letters are still “alive and strong” at least for the moment. =]
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