Is the Formal Cover Letter Even a Thing Anymore?

formal cover letterBetween all the resources that jobseekers have today, from career portals to social media networks, you might be thinking, “do I even need a cover letter?” Yet, many job applications still request a formal cover letter along with your resume.

The general consensus by recruiters is that the cover letter has become obsolete in many cases. However, there will always be situations where a cover letter will be appropriate to use and even required by the hiring manager.

You may be asking yourself if you really need to take the time to create a formal cover letter? The answer comes down to the type of job that you may be applying for. And, of course, where you are in your career currently.

Here are the two scenarios when using a formal cover letter is the right thing to do.

1. A Formal Cover Letter is Requested

As you encounter job leads, pay close attention to the requirements listed by the hiring manager. In some cases, there may be a list of required documents found at the very bottom of the job posting. Sometimes this information will be lacking and therefore you must follow the instructions in the applicant tracking system.

For example, a very common way for employers to gather resumes, cover letters, another information about candidates is the use of social media sharing tools such as the LinkedIn job tool. There, you will be able to connect your LinkedIn profile to your application. You’ll also see a content box or attachment feature that allows you to send additional documentation.

Another example can be within an applicant tracking system that directly requests both a resume and a cover letter. For this reason we recommend that you have separate documents that you can attach and upload. You would also want to optimize your cover letter to the actual job itself.

2. You Need to Make a Career Change

The use of a formal cover letter will work in your favor if you are making a major career change. This also goes for being out of the workforce for a while before entering a new career. A cover letter can be a useful document for providing a focused introduction of your skills and abilities. Unlike a resume that basically shows historical data about your career, a cover letter can be sent to direct the hiring manager’s attention.

When crafting your cover letter be sure to think in terms of how you can demonstrate your value to the organization. Also, be sure to list your top traits. That way, you can sway the human resource team in your favor. For example, in your most recent jobs, you may have limited opportunities to demonstrate strong sales acumen. But since that job you may have owned a business and have developed outstanding sales abilities that you can now highlight on your cover letter. Think of your cover letter as a sales pitch to the organization.

Remember, Keep It Simple

A formal cover letter does not have to be elaborate. In fact, it should be very simple and to the point. Use a cover letter template as a guide. Start with a powerful opening statement to introduce yourself (think elevator pitch). Then make a quick list of your top 3 to 5 relevant qualities that have to do with the job. An easy way to come up with this list is to simply review the job posting requirements and then come up with related points for your cover letter. Be authentic and honest.

Wrap up your formal cover letter with an action statement encouraging the hiring manager to contact you. It’s vital to include your contact information and an active phone number where you may be reached.

Your cover letter is a direct reflection of how you want to be viewed by potential hiring companies.

Treat this document with care.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Jobscan Blog!





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