Cover letters: Essential or outdated?

3 min read

Career Trends: May 9, 2022
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

A cover letter is used to highlight the skills of a person along with their reason for applying to a specific job.

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Cover letters are a one-page document attached with your job application. It serves as a formal introduction for the person behind the résumé. It highlights the skills of a person along with their reasons for applying to a specific job. Traditionally it also provided an example of their letter-writing skills.

However, cover letters have changed over time. Now they are often in the body of an email, and much briefer. Since the résumé itself is highly customized, fewer skills and accomplishments are listed in a cover letter. Today, most jobs do not require writing long, formal letters to demonstrate a candidate’s writing skills.

So when considering whether to write and send a cover letter in 2022, what should you keep in mind?

1. If it is requested by the potential employer. 

  • If a job advertisement or a potential employer asks for a cover letter, you should include one.
  • Job ads may ask you to include information like what appealed to you about the job opening or company or to detail the most significant accomplishment in your career.
  • These questions used to be asked in the interview but are now moving earlier in the process.
  • Requesting a cover letter can also be a way to weed out candidates who do not pay attention to details and don’t include one.

2. To specify special circumstances. 

  • Sometimes you have specific needs or nonnegotiable qualities.
  • Maybe you will only work 100% virtually, or you plan to relocate to a specific city.
  • None of these requirements would appear on a résumé or CV, but a cover letter can be the perfect place to convey your requirements to potential employers and avoid wasting everyone’s time.
  • You could also use a cover letter to explain a gap in your employment history, provide context on a mismatch of your background and current interests, or explain why you are changing fields.

3. For entry-level positions. 

  • Today, as many as 98% of entry-level positions are initially screened by artificial intelligence, which rarely considers information in cover letters.
  • If “taleo” or “workday” appears in a job-ad URL, an algorithm will likely do the prescreening.
  • However, if your résumé passes the AI screening and ranking, a cover letter might be read by the hiring manager.

4. For senior or leadership positions.

  • In an application for a senior or leadership position, a cover letter can explain your broader vision for the position of the organization.
  • It can also provide an overview of how your experience is ideal.
  • Applying for jobs should be as efficient as possible.
  • However, potential employers need to understand your skills, vision, interest, and enthusiasm.
  • A cover letter could be the right way to convey how your passion, values, and credentials make you an ideal candidate.

Have you checked out yesterday’s blog yet?

Steer Clear of These Outdated CV Trends

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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