Cover letters are the worst – and I’m not just saying that because I’m terrible at writing them.
You see, I’m not the only one who believes the résumé’s annoying cousin should be obsolete.
Bloomberg recently talked to five hiring managers about whether or not cover letters are necessary. There were opinions thrown around on both sides, but most agreed that cover letters are becoming less relevant.
The article also brought up the interesting statistic that only 20% of private sector hiring managers even read cover letters, according to the Society of Human Resource Management.
And a 2016 CareerBuilder survey found that only 29% of employers ask for a cover letter today.
Business Insider checked in with Chameleon Résumé managing director Lisa Rangel, Résumé Writers’ Ink founder Tina Nicolai, and Five Strengths CEO Amy Adler to get their take on the cover letter debate.
They all agree that while the cover letter might not always be required anymore, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one ready, just in case.
“Cover letters are no longer the norm,” Nicolai says. “Yes, executive positions still require cover letters in many cases, but these are for C-suite level positions.”
However, Rangel says that any argument of whether or not you should have one ready is pointless – even if cover letters are becoming less popular.
“The concept of introducing oneself and setting oneself apart will never go by the wayside,” Rangel says. “It will just take different forms and the job seeker must be open to trying different ways to capture the attention of their hiring manager audience.”
She notes that it’s still important to always be prepared to submit a cover letter, just in case: “You don’t want to get caught not having one if it’s asked for. Make sure it’s great!”
Adler agrees, saying that you can’t necessarily tell whether or not the hiring manager you’re trying to impress is in the percentage that does read cover letters.
“That uncertainty means that leaving the cover letter out can be a huge misstep if the hiring manager wants to see something interesting about the applicant in addition to the résumé – or has specifically asked for one in the job posting,” Adler says.
Adler says job seekers should take special care to make sure any cover letters they do write are impactful and short enough to fit on a mobile screen, as the job application and candidate screening processes become increasingly digital and mobile.
Another thing to think about when applying for jobs: your social media presence.
As fewer hiring managers are asking for, or looking at, cover letters, more are turning to your social media profiles to get a better idea of who you are.
“Cover letters are being replaced by social sites such as LinkedIn, Referral Key, and many others,” says Nicolai. “Recruiters can determine a great deal about a candidate from their active, professional online social media presence. Today, it’s far more crucial to present a professional, positive, and consistent personal brand on LinkedIn.”
But, regardless, you should always have an excellent cover letter ready to go because you never know how much weight your hiring manager will put on it.