As Technology Changes: Is a Traditional Cover Letter Still Necessary?

traditional cover letterJob seekers hate writing them and hiring managers get bored reading them, so why is a traditional cover letter still necessary? Many wishful thinkers have emphatically declared cover letters dead in recent years.

But the fact remains: cover letters still stand between you and many available jobs.

When applying online, the traditional cover letter might be your first opportunity to appeal to a real life human being, but that person still has to read it. An overlooked piece of advice is to consider your audience– not just the hiring manager but the tech they utilize.

Cover Letters Must Be Searchable

The first obstacle for your traditional cover letter might be getting past a bot. And they won’t be moved by your elegant prose or inspiring story.

Most larger companies utilize software that creates a searchable database of job applicants. Rather than manually reading every single resume submitted, hiring managers shrink their pool of applicants by searching the database for specific skills and keywords. Some programs will eliminate any applicant without one of those keywords sight unseen.

Taleo, the most-used applicant tracking system out there, treats cover letters as searchable text just like the resume. Other application processes require the applicant to tack their letter to the end of their resume document. In these scenarios, your letter becomes the key to surviving the first round of cuts. Even before human eyes see your resume.

Targeted Keywords Boost Searchability

Hiring managers identify their best candidates. Then they narrow down their pool of applicants by searching with exact keyword combinations found in the job description. Jobscan recommends tailoring your resume to the job description. Your cover letter deserves the same treatment.

Ensuring that your cover letter contains key skills from the job description is especially important if you’re transitioning careers. If job-critical skills weren’t part of your past work experience, your cover letter must pick up the slack. Demonstrating knowledge of the missing skills and highlighting non-professional experience in your letter can help you get past the filters and show the hiring manager that you’re qualified for the job.

Write a Great Traditional Cover Letter

Optimizing your cover letter with keywords will help you survive the hiring manager’s filters but it’s just one part of the equation. You still need to write something that will win over the hiring manager once they finally read it.


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





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