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Do you need a cover letter in 2024?

Do You Need a Cover Letter in 2024?

Do you need a cover letter in 2024? This is one of the questions that came up in a training I recently led for those affected by layoffs. My response: I’ve been recruiting for over a decade and I can’t remember the last time I read a cover letter. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time a hiring manager requested to view a cover letter.

Do you need a cover letter in 2024?

Cover letters are time-consuming and often don’t add much value. Maybe a cover letter would be useful for a role that requires writing or editing but more often than not those job interview processes include a writing assessment. If not a writing assessment, they will ask for samples of work. I find they often go the assessment route because samples of work could have been heavily edited by someone else before they were published. If a cover letter is optional then it’s okay to skip.

How can I stand out without a cover letter?

Instead of a cover letter focus your energy on these things:

Put together a solid resume

Your resume is your number one ticket to an interview. There is no need for fancy templates or headshots to stand out. Ensure your resume concisely highlights your skills. If you have had a lot of different experiences think about what that common thread might be. Ask yourself, what skills or role and I known for or have the most experience in? From there, you can minimize anything that doesn’t align with that message.

Update your LinkedIn using a variety of keywords

LinkedIn is the #1 way recruiters find you. The database works through keyword searches. Try to incorporate a few keywords into your description to ensure your profile shows up in searches. For example, I am a recruiter by trade. My LinkedIn profile should include words like: “talent acquisition” and “recruiter” since companies refer to this title in different ways. I also try to sprinkle in related words like “recruitment”, my industry, and other important skills like people management.

Your LinkedIn description should be a high-level summary of your resume. You want to give people a reason to reach out and learn more.

Update your portfolio

If you are in a creative field, it’s important to have your portfolio of work current. Invest some time in refreshing your portfolio. Ensure you link to it on your resume. Make sure it’s not password protected otherwise you give people an opportunity to move on to the next person. You can also include links to your best work on LinkedIn.

Identify key people in your network and send thoughtful messages

When it comes to job searching, using your network is helpful. Find key people in your network, and send thoughtful messages. If there is something you have in common try to use that to your advantage i.e. someone from your alumni network. Start your note off with something about college to get their attention. Then talk about the role you found, and how you feel you would be a great fit. End with, any chance you could assist with getting my resume in front of the right person? If not, no problem – would love to still stay connected. Avoid coming from a place of desperation or asking someone you don’t know to do something for you. Give them the option.

Overall, I don’t think cover letters are necessary in 2024 or useful. If they are optional in your job application process, then I would skip it. No company is going to pass on someone who has all of the experience they need but didn’t submit a cover letter. That would be ridiculous. Instead of wasting your time on cover letters, work on refining your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile and portfolio, and thoughtfully networking. Hopefully, this gives you more insight into navigating the job search and saves you a little time too.