Resumes and Cover Letters

Cover Letters Should Have Stayed In The 20th Century?

Do you like writing cover letters? Most people don’t. Cover letters have been a part of the job search process for almost 70 years. The first use of “cover letter” in the context of employment was on September 23, 1956. Isn’t that fascinating? 

Do you like writing cover letters? Most people don’t. Cover letters have been a part of the job search process for almost 70 years. The first use of “cover letter” in the context of employment was on September 23, 1956. Isn’t that fascinating? 

Just to give you some perspective, Elvis’ first hit “Heartbreak hotel” was released that year. The first hard disk was invented by IBM in 1956 as well. First ever Eurovision song. The first ever internet prototypes came in the late 1960s. We can all agree that the world was a different place in 1956. 

What has been around for 70 years without any changes? Not many things. And maybe there is a reason for that.

In 2022, where our reality includes reels, Tiktoks, and even short LinkedIn videos, people tend to want to consume information in very short bursts. Reading has been declining for years now.

In fact, according to surveys, 23% of adult Americans didn’t read a book in 2020. With the evolution of the internet and social media, have people become lazy when it comes to reading? 

When it comes to online reading, studies have shown that, realistically, people will read about 20% of the text on an average page.

What does that tell us? It tells us that our brains tend to browse through, take a look at a few sentences, take over some key points and move on. Maybe this is better. Maybe we are evolving. But the key point remains, people are not reading as much as they did 70 years ago.

Let’s go back to cover letters. 

When someone is applying for a role, in addition to their 2-page resume, they also need to submit a one-page cover letter. According to a 2018 Eye-Tracking Study, Ladders Inc. revealed that the time recruiters spend on the initial screen of a resume is an average of 7.4 seconds. 

What about hiring managers? On average, hiring managers look at resumes for six to seven seconds. Well, isn’t that something? So if they are only skimming through a resume, what about cover letters?

A survey conducted by reCareered found that 90% of hiring contacts surveyed simply ignored every cover letter sent to them. 

Times have changed drastically since 1956, and yet, we still use formal cover letters as the method to represent the modern applicant. Why is that? Maybe employers haven’t come up with a better alternative. Perhaps the structure of the entire job search process is too rigid to be changed. However, today I am proposing an alternative. 

Alert – New trend is coming

Some professionals started talking about a 30-second video that an applicant makes in order to show their personality as well as their reasons for wanting to join the company. In 2022, I think this is a great alternative. Yes, recruiters and hiring managers skim through the resume for less than 10 seconds. However, videos are a whole other ballpark.

 People like watching short videos: 

  • When it comes to advertising, the clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business. 
  • Furthermore, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video.

Applicants can use this to their advantage. Dress up, be enthusiastic and rehearse. Show them why they should hire you. Be authentic and show interest. Show that you’ve done your research about the company. Smile and gesticulate. Body language tells a lot. And hiring managers and recruiters can see if someone is genuinely interested, unlike a cover letter. So it’s a win-win situation. 

If you are not sure what to do with your resume or LinkedIn, upgrade to All-Access and schedule a call with me so we can discuss it together. 

Anastazija Gavrilovic, Career Advisor at Ivy Exec. 

About the Author

Anastazija Gavrilovic is an Ivy Exec Senior Career Advisor who has worked with more than 2,000 clients ranging from entry level to the C-Suite across various industries. She helps clients learn how to embark on their job search in the most effective way. In addition to giving resume critique and career advice, Anastazija also provides business consulting services.