The State of Cover Letters (in 2016)

Here’s a post about my take on cover letters, as a hiring manager.

For years I’ve been reading and hearing that cover letters are outdated and unnecessary.  As a hiring manager that never sat well with me, but what do I know.

Then, last week I read this article, Standing Out From a Crowd of 30,000, by Davis Nguyen, a hiring manager at Bain. That is a big deal.  There is a subheader titled The cover letter wasn’t really optional. NOT OPTIONAL.

Then, Lisa Rangel’s email this morning had this:

“I view a cover letter like I do a suit.  Can you do the job not wearing a suit? Yes. But if you need to wear a suit to work, you better have one that makes you look great. A cover letter is the same. Can you apply without a cover letter? Absolutely. But if the employer asks for one, you better have one that makes you look fabulous.”

Sure, some people think resumes and cover letters are dying.  But here’s the bottom line: there is no standard in hiring. One company might try to standardize something, or say “we’re a bunch of high tech millennials, and we think resumes are stupid.”  But the reality is, if a hiring manager, decision-maker or influencer wants a cover letter, and you don’t have one, then that is one mark against you.

Why risk it?  Just write the thing! Some people spend more time arguing about whether they should have one than what it would take to write one.

Optional?  Yep.

Great idea to have one anyway?  Yep.