Career Warrior Podcast #293) Are Cover Letters Dead In 2023?
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Are cover letters dead in 2023? While many may argue that cover letters are no longer necessary, I believe that they can be one of the most powerful parts of a job application if written exceptionally well. Cover letters can provide a platform to showcase soft skills, which are important in any job application.
I also advised job seekers to research the company they are applying to and find creative ways to show their soft skills rather than just stating them. Cover letters can also give more context to career transitioners and explain why they are making the switch.
I provided two examples of cover letters to illustrate how to make them stand out. So, if you’re looking to make your job application stand out, this is the episode for you.
Chris Villanueva 0:00
For career transitioners, the cover letter can give more context about your transition. What are the transferable skills you have to bring to the table? LinkedIn presents and welcome to the Let’s Eat, Grandma Career Warrior Podcast!
Are cover letters dead in 2023? This is an exciting topic that I cannot wait to get into. But if your goal is to transition to more meaningful work, achieve better pay, or reach that flow state at work, you must subscribe to this podcast. We release episodes every single Monday consistently. And we also have a newsletter that just released a few weeks ago on LinkedIn. So make sure to follow me on LinkedIn. I’m Chris Villanueva CPRW. I would love to hear from you and engage in the comment section.
Alright, so speaking of show here, there’s a song I just recently discovered by the legendary band Rush, it’s called “Show Don’t Tell” and it goes something along the lines of this show, man, don’t tell me. Show me, don’t tell me. So you can forever burn it in your memory. You’ll remember me singing “Show Don’t Tell Me” and why that sounded like Eddie Vetter from Pearl Jam, I can’t exactly tell you but I can tell you that you will remember and know why I’m saying this in just a second. So are cover letters dead in 2023?
This is a common question and something that we see in the LinkedIn universe and among job seekers and so called thought leaders who are excited to just kill or cancel stuff. So it’s a bold statement: cover letters being dead and there’s a reason why some people are saying this, the folks want cover letters to die because they suck. Like a lot of the cover letters that are being circulated out there on the internet are just really poorly written or at best generic pieces of garbage. And I tell that looking at a lot of cover letters and having our company write a lot of cover letters, we have spent a lot of time really looking and thinking about the value that they have to bring to the table when it comes to the job search.
So let’s take this as an example. I will have AJ cue the robot voice as well as the music here. Here’s a cover letter that I recently wrote to Rush asking them if I could join their band goes like this:
“Dear [Rush Band Members],
I am writing to express my interest in applying for the position of band member in your renowned band. As an experienced musician with a passion for your music, I believe that I could make a positive contribution to the group.
As a dedicated musician, I understand the commitment required to create great music –”
Oh my gosh, I fell asleep even reading that. And somewhere along the lines, it says, “thank you for considering my application. I will looking forward to hearing from you soon. This, ladies and gentlemen is what most cover letter sound like which is vanilla generic stuff that can be copied and pasted from job seeker to job seeker. And yes, it sounds professional. Yes, it makes sense but at the end of the day, it doesn’t pique interest whatsoever and that’s the whole point of the cover letter.
An article from SHRM, the Society of Human Resource Management Professionals, they say,“Experienced. Responsible. Successful. These are the words job seekers use most often in resumes and cover letters to describe themselves, according to new research. They’re also among the words U.S. job applicants’ most commonly seek help spelling.” So not only are people spelling these words wrong, they’re using the same words over and over again. And I would not be surprised that if you use the word “responsible” that for every time you use it, there’s 100 people just like you also using that and applying for the same job. So stand out, make sure to use the types of things that are going to stand out. That’s not the point of this episode, though.
The point is to talk about the purpose of the cover letter and to help you think about using it in a meaningful way that can get you hired. So I’m here to tell you that the cover letter can be one of the most powerful parts of your job application, it can do certain things that a resume can’t. And it can also tip someone to a yes, who is on the fence about bringing you into an interview. So I want you to get excited and I’m here to tell you that this will be the year of the cover letter. It’s time to make cover letters great again. You really can’t say that it’s too political. It’s a career podcast and screw that I’m tired.
So let’s talk about one of the main reasons why the cover letter is important: soft skills. Soft skills are one of those things that you should show and not tell in your job application. So if in the job description, it calls for a leader that is willing to adapt and a leader who is able to inspire change, then these are things that I wouldn’t necessarily include on the resume. I wouldn’t necessarily say “adaptable” or “inspiring”, because these oftentimes are empty words that don’t mean anything. So going back to Rush’ “Show Don’t Tell Me”, how can you actually show that you’re an inspiring leader that caused a positive change within your organization, as well as somebody who is able to adapt to the hard times?
Tell two short stories of instances that you’ve done this before in the past, and include that in your cover letter. This, ladies and gentlemen, is why the cover letter is not dead; it’s because it affords this one special opportunity for you to show and not tell in your job application. For career transitioners, the cover letter can give more context about your transition. What are the transferable skills you have to bring to the table? What are some of the things that you’ve done to learn about your field and to progress your own knowledge as a professional? Why are you making the transition from teacher to sales manager and this is the type of thing that you can include a story or philosophy or something like that to end up bringing your job application to life. So I rewrote that original cover letter that I sent out to Rush. I didn’t really send this up to this cover letter out, it’s more of a hypothetical because I’m running out of examples here for this podcast.
So in the cover letter that I rewrote to Rush I said,
“Dear Geddy Lee,
You are looking for a resilient musician who can nail all the progressive guitar riffs for your upcoming 2023 Rush Reunite tour. I am writing to express my strong interest in joining the legendary Rush band as your newest member.
I have been playing guitar since high school, and I had the opportunity to perform with my band as an opening act for Forever the Sickest Kids. This experience not only taught me how to perform in front of a live audience, but it also instilled in me a deep appreciation for the power of music to bring people together.
Furthermore, I am a highly adaptable musician who is always eager to take on new challenges. When I was just 16 years old, I was tasked with learning the bass guitar in a single weekend in order to fill in for a missing band member. Despite the short timeframe, I was able to quickly learn the necessary techniques and contribute to a performance of over 50 songs in front of 50 hard-to-impress teenagers.
As a member of Rush, I would bring a unique blend of technical proficiency, creativity, and dedication to the craft of music-making. I am confident that my skills and passion would complement the existing talents of the band and help to create an unforgettable live experience for audiences around the world.”
And then I closed it out there with my classic, contact me for an interview, you know how I do. So this is an example of a cover letter that brings things to life, because cover letters are not dead, at least the ones that actually tell a story and bring some substance to your humanity. This is what I’m talking about, including a cover letter that can tip somebody over from a no to a yes, and inspire somebody to bring you in for the interview. This is why cover letters are not dead.
So post this episode, tag me, and connect with me on LinkedIn. Of course, I’ll be posting newsletter editions. Essentially, every single podcast episode will come with a newsletter edition to complement or supplement the material in this podcast. So if you’re listening to this one right now, and you have further questions about this episode, I would love to see you in the comment section. Just post something and tag me and I will definitely respond.
By the way, did you know that I own a resume writing service with my brother? Over the last eight years, we found some of the most amazing individuals to write resumes cover letters, yes and LinkedIn profiles for our clients. If this interests you, head on over to letseatgrandma.com and we would love to pair you up with an amazing resume writer to move your job search forward.
I had so much fun during this episode and I’ll see you next week in the Career Warrior Podcast. Before you go, remember if you’re not seeing the results you want in your job search, our highly trained team of professional resume writers here at Let’s Eat, Grandma can help. Head on over to letseatgrandma.com/podcast to get a free resume critique and $70 off any one of our resume writing packages. We talk all the time on the show about the importance of being targeted in your job search and with our unique writing process and focus on individual attention, you’ll get a resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile that are highly customized and tailored to your goals to help you get hired faster. Again, head on over to letseatgrandma.com/podcast. Thanks and I’ll see you next time.