Is the Cover Letter Dead?

John Krautzel
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Although some career experts are convinced that a good cover letter is the key to landing a job interview, others claim that the cover letter is dead. Modern alternatives to the cover letter, such as an in-depth LinkedIn profile, can fulfill the same purpose of opening doors for you. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should use a cover letter or let your online profile speak for you.

The first and most important factor in the decision over whether to send a cover letter is this: did the employer request a cover letter in the job posting? If you have been asked to send a cover letter, then you ignore this instruction at your peril. You don't want to give your potential employer the impression that you can't follow a simple instruction.

An increasing number of job postings do not ask for a cover letter. Does this mean that hiring managers are no longer interested in reading them? According to Spencer Taylor, who has 10 years of experience of working as a headhunter on Wall Street, most recruiters in that industry do not read cover letters any more. They don't have the time to read a whole page that explains why the candidate wants the job. If your resume doesn't communicate that message clearly, then you simply don't get an interview.

However, even this recruitment expert admits that some older recruiters still expect to receive a cover letter from each applicant. Whereas Generation X and the Millennials see the cover letter as old-fashioned, recruiters from the Boomer generation are used to receiving them. In light of this difference of opinion, it is worth finding out something about the atmosphere in the company to which you are submitting your job application. Dynamic, modern companies staffed mostly with young go-getters are less likely to welcome a cover letter than more traditional enterprises.

What are the alternatives to a cover letter? In recent years, many job seekers have compressed the information that might traditionally have appeared in a cover letter into a summary section at the top of their resume. However, space on a resume is limited. Some job seekers assume that hiring managers are likely to look them up online, so they focus on turning their LinkedIn profile into a kind of online cover letter. On LinkedIn, you can tell your career story, using not only text but also images and videos.

Should you send a cover letter with your next job application? The answer, frustratingly, is "it depends." Some companies still ask for a cover letter, whereas others prefer to look at how candidates presents themselves in their resumes and online. The cover letter isn't dead yet, but it is no longer as universal as it once was.


Photo courtesy of Kittikun Atsawintarangkul at



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Walter it could hurt to provide a cover letter depending upon what the job posting asked. Many job postings will indicate that they only want a resume. In that case, you will get tossed out for not following directions. Always read the entire job posting before you decide to apply.

  • Walter Thompson
    Walter Thompson

    It wont hurt to provide a cover letter. The cover letter can always be ignored by whomever processes you resume.

  • Charles O.
    Charles O.

    facts are now online as the do, nancy..


    got that right Nancy

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Carolyn, it really is a shame that companies act the way they do. But it's not all companies that just seem to ignore the thank you notes and follow up calls. So please don't stop doing it. In my experience it's a mixed bag where some companies will call you and send a letter (email); some companies will send a letter or email and others will just totally ignore your calls and thank you notes. But, for us, we just keep on doing what is right and the job will come. For those companies who ignore, would you really want to work there? Gives you a taste of what it would be like to be in their employ! Keep doing what is right Carolyn. All it takes is just one company to appreciate your efforts!

  • Carolyn K.
    Carolyn K.

    I have been faithful to sending the "thank you" note for the interview. I call and then email once time each after the interview - not to the point of being obnoxious. No response on their end. Sorry that's rude too. Even a generic email saying they went with someone else would be fine.

  • Ibrahim keita
    Ibrahim keita

    Très bon

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