Cover Letters, Social Media, Networking, Resume
JOB HUNT / 14 December 2016
Are Cover Letters Extinct?
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Stefano Ganddini

Most of us grew up during a time when the resume and cover letter were the inseparable, dynamic duo of job hunting. 

Both were equally important as the other and when applying for a job, both were required. Always. 


But, times are changing. 


Last week, we talked about how the traditional resume isn’t completely dead but it is undergoing a drastic transformation. Thanks to the rise of social media, the medium through which resumes are presented and promoted changed, however, the function of a resume (whether on paper or online) remains unchanged—to showcase a candidate’s qualifications. 

The cover letter, on the other hand, may very well be on its way out. 

You see, the function of a cover letter is to fill in the details and connect the dots on a candidate’s resume. But, because social media now gives recruiters a much fuller and more accurate view of candidates, it has almost completely eliminated the need for a cover letter at all.


Almost...


Studies show that 90% of hiring managers admit that they never even read cover letters. 90%.That’s a very high number. Of course, that still means that 10% of hiring managers do still read cover letters. 

While cover letters may well be on their way out, many companies still require them as part of the application package. So, if you’re applying for a job that does require a cover letter, I would advise you to devote the necessary time to create a good one (here’s a great template). Even if the chances are low that they will actually read it, don’t risk it by blowing it off. The way I see it, a well-written cover letter can only help you, while a poorly written cover letter can only hurt you. 

That being said, because the chances of it actually being read are so low, you definitely shouldn’t be relying on your cover letter (or resume) alone to set you apart from other candidates. Instead, you should focus on your online presence and building relationships with people who can champion your application. 

If a recruiter wants more context on your resume, they’re likely to do a quick Google search on you. In fact, an estimated three out of four hiring managers will check a candidate's social media profiles, even if they are not provided, and an estimated 92% of companies are using social media to recruit candidates. 

Similarly, an employee referral will always provide a much stronger guarantee than a cover letter ever could. According to ProMatch.org, 80% of jobs are landed through networking.


What This Means For Job Seekers


Whether you like it or not, the cover letter will soon be extinct. 

Moving forward, recruiters will be spending less and less time looking at resumes and cover letters, and more and more time looking at social media profiles or asking employees for referrals. 

If you’re a job seeker, this means you should start focusing your efforts on growing your online presence and your personal network. 

If you don’t know where to start, I’d suggest creating a free candidate profile here at ProSky which will be viewed by hundreds of companies looking to hire. You can also sign up for one of our projects and get the chance to work directly with recruiters and hiring managers. No cover letters required :)