Apparently there are still cover letters, sometimes.
Flashback. The last time I looked for work before 2007-2008, then 2013, was in 1994, and especially in 1992. After some 1200 resumes tendered during a year of unemployment, in early 1993 I started with a company that had not been one of the ones I’d targeted. Instead, they received my resume from a company I’d impressed, but which ultimately chose not to create the entirely new position my resume inspired them to consider creating for me. Following that job, I sent a total of ten resumes and got a job out of the first three. Big change.
Every one of those resumes, sent by postal mail, mostly unsolicited, required a cover letter. I am write enough that it may as well be my vocation, yet I freeze when it comes to a cover letter. More so even than my agony over my own resume, for all I have created resumes for others. Most of them were identical, generic, probably saying little more than my resume was enclosed and here’s what kind of work I sought. Necessary, since I sent them unsolicited.
Flash forward. The world has changed. Computing power and connectivity beyond my wildest dreams. In 1992, remember, I transitioned from a 286 to a 386, learning how to build a PC in the process, cannibalizing parts from my original Packard-Bell. In 1992 or early 1993, I got my first modem and spent my first time on a BBS. In 1993, I had my first e-mail address, via said BBS, run by a friend. The modem and PC proved critical for that first tech support job, where I could use PC Anywhere to connect remotely to customer systems while doing off-hours support from home. Now a smartphone blows away that computing power and connectivity. The Internet is mature. Much of the tech support that was once necessary is moot, since everyone knows at least the basics, most know more, and hardware is more disposable, so needs less repair and more replacement.
In the process of that maturation, job hunting went online. You don’t mail resumes. Or perhaps you do, if you want to baffle people, or make them wonder about you. You apply online. You upload a resume. Maybe you e-mail a resume, and in that case a cover letter makes sense shades of the old days, no matter how invited the submitted resume may be. But when you are uploading as part of an online application for a specific position? That’s as targeted and specific as it gets. They know which job you seek. They have all your other information.
Nonetheless, I am encountering the call for cover letters, even in that context. This means it’s time to compose one. At least for a specific job, but perhaps that will do as a basis for others.
While I’m on the topic of online applications, many of them are flawed. Create an account with you so I can apply? Upload a resume and then also fill out all the information again? (Clarify and expand is one thing…) Answer what amount to interview questions? (I know, the better to screen you with.) Sites that hang. Sites that don’t remember you signed up, so you have to do it again. Sites with job search engines that simply don’t work.
Sometimes I miss simply identifying companies that might be prospects and mailing them resumes. Even when it means a cover letter each and every time.