The methods of job searching have evolved over the years, and today’s job application process varies greatly from the process 15, 10, even just 5 years ago. I mean, resume paper actually used to be a thing!
Most job announcements are found online today, and the application process follows suit. Considering the evolution of the application process, you may wonder if you even need to submit a cover letter anymore, and if so, what is today’s cover letter expected to look like?
The answer is yes, you still need to send a cover letter, unless of course the job posting you’re responding to specifically asks you not to. (Although instead of making a trip to the post office as in the past, you will likely be asked to email it or send it as an attachment.) What else should you consider when writing a cover letter?
As has always been the case, you should be sure to personalize each cover letter you send. If your cover letter sounds generic and it’s obvious to the employer that the exact same letter could have been submitted for any number of job openings, they will think you do not care about the job or want it badly enough. Personalizing the letter shows that you are interested enough in the job to put the time into researching the company and making yourself stand out from other applicants.
In the past, cover letters could be a full page in length and would have multiple paragraphs dedicated to personal information, such as how you heard about the job opening, why you think you’re a good fit, your background, and experience. Today, cover letters should be brief and easy to read, and instead of focusing solely on yourself, you should put some emphasis on the company as well.
Research the company so you can give your cover letter a catchy opening that helps you stand out as someone who knows something about them. Follow up with a brief paragraph that gives a few examples of why you are a good fit, including specific examples of your relevant accomplishments.
End your cover letter with an active statement. You don’t want to sound presumptive, since you haven’t been invited for an interview yet, but ending with a statement that calls for action is a safe bet. A sentence such as, “I look forward to discussing my qualifications with you…” or “I hope to have an opportunity to meet to discuss how I can help your company…” are strong in closing and may help lead to an interview.
Finally, don’t forget to proofread! This is one aspect of the cover letter that hasn’t changed; proofreading is just as important today as it has ever been. There’s nothing worse than having a potential employer’s first impression of you be tarnished by a typo, misspelling or incorrect use of grammar.
Cover letters are still an important part of the job application process. While the format continues to evolve, the goal remains the same- to let employers know that you are interested in their company and that you are the best fit for the job they are trying to fill. Make sure the effort you put into creating your cover letter reflects how much you’d like to be considered for the job.