Have you heard this: "Don't send a cover letter. No one reads those."
My response is generally this:
Really, not one person anywhere in the whole wide world?
Yeah, I hear "no one reads those" 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?
But for most of us who live in the every day, non-glitter, mostly small to medium business parts of the world, cover letters are still wanted and needed. So, the "don't send a cover letter" doesn't fly in most cases.
There are small/medium businesses (SMBs) for example that can't afford costly 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! And when you don't send a well-crafted, focused cover letter, this can actually cause problems when you're not using a targeted resume.
And when you don't send a well-crafted, focused cover letter, this can actually cause problems when you're not using a targeted resume.
Smaller hiring companies 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 who say the US postal service is dead too, but that doesn't make it true for everyone, everywhere.
Like I said, don't be too quick to believe the "don't send a cover letter" hype.
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 an increasingly shorter shelf life too.
Do a quick search using 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.
Screenshot From Google Trends
The following is a look at Google Trends' results for the key phrase "cover letter."
From 2004 to the end of 2012, 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. =]