Is A Cover Letter Necessary in 2021?

Dear People Still Writing Cover Letters,

According to many job application sites like Monster and Indeed and various news outlets, hiring managers spend about 6 seconds reading an applicant’s resume. 6 seconds. If that seems fast, it is. I don’t think I can do anything in 6 seconds…well maybe eat my entire dinner so I can be ready in case my son would rather play than eat, but other than that, I can’t do much. So if they’re spending 6 seconds on a resume, guess what, they are NOT reading a million paragraphs of a cover letter. Sorry, I hate to be the bearer of bad news if you haven’t heard that news already. In today’s day and age, hiring managers and recruiters are way too busy to sit there and read your precious cover letter that you worked on for days and days, agonizing over every line like George R. R. Martin agonized over writing a Game of Thrones book. But don’t start deleting cover letters and tearing your favorite one down from its frame yet. I do have some GOOD NEWS. There are a few reasons that you DO need a cover letter. That’s right I said DO.

hispanic couple of students in park preparing for exams
  1. A cover letter is a great document for a referral.

Remember the whole networking thing? Yeah, well you should always remember that networking thing because it’s one of the best things to do to get yourself a job. If you network properly, you’re going to get your resume in the hands of a hiring manager who actually WANTS to read your resume. And wouldn’t it be nice to have a little cover letter in case she or he asks for the person referring you to give some information on you. Now again, your cover letter shouldn’t be the length of the Magna Carta, or the Bible, or even a Dr. Seuss book (hopefully we’re still aloud to reference Dr. Seuss but if not I’m sorry). Just make it a couple short…emphasis on the word SHORT paragraphs and be done with it. Short, to the point, not rambly, and give the highlights of your career.

2. You still need it when applying for jobs online.

I know it’s not a great reason, but if you re-read what I said, I said “reasons” you need a cover letter, not great reasons. A lot of job application sites still ask for you to provide a resume and cover letter and some even make the cover letter mandatory. Don’t fall into the trap of just putting in a random sentence or two just to fill up space either. Have something in your files that you can use to quickly describe yourself and jump off of the page. The goal is to find a way to separate yourself from the thousands of other applications in the system.

Now I know you’re probably telling yourself, this really isn’t a great case for needing a cover letter. So fine don’t write one, but when you find yourself needing one, I will be the first one to say I told you so. it’s not a document you need to be losing sleep over every night (there’s plenty of things to lose sleep over every night….like birds chirping a 3am) but it’s a document you still should have as an insurance policy. Yes, another insurance policy to go with your life insurance, car insurance, and blackjack insurance. But hey, at least this one may one day help you to get that job. So cover letter, you escape the axe for another year and we’ll check on you again in 2022.

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