To Whom this concerns / The Human Resource Department,
I have applied to my fair share of job openings and I am astonished that I am still being asked for a cover letter in the application process. Typically a cover letters function as a leg up on other applicants by providing an additional supplement to a submitted CV or Resume. The cover letter is the supporting document used to express interest for the company one is applying to, expound additional qualifications for the position, and offer insight into related professional goals.
Traditionally this is an excellent resource to sort out, fast track, or humanize an applicant to a hiring representative and eases the daunting task of “finding the best fit for the role”, but does it really?
This additional rag in the application process is held at such an elevated expectation that the very purpose of the document has become mute. The cover letter has become a formulaic combination of robotic keywords, dull-witted buzz phrases and twice bolstered hubris. In essence, the process itself has been degraded into a template of cut and paste ramblings and half-truths, all carefully formulated and processed to fit the mold.
As such, the “cover letter” should be removed from the process altogether and be replaced with something more indicative of the 21st century. I propose that instead of a sheet of ramblings all applicants provide two of the following options.
Submit the top 5 professionally related applications you use on a tablet and/or mobile phone.
(can be a combination of devices, please specify the device)
Submit up to 5 URLs of your best work related to the position you are applying.
(writing, artistic portfolio, coding sample, blog post of a DIY project)
Submit up to 5 blogs that help you stay in touch with the industry.
(if you have your own industry related blog, please list as part of your five)
Now, I know that any of these options can be fabricated, but that is also a good thing. All of these questions can be fact-checked on the spot and lead to more candid conversations with the applicant.
For example, if someone lists five of their favorite apps, it is more than likely the applicant will have the supporting device at the interview. That becomes an opportunity for the interviewer to ask, and experience more about one of the apps listed. Listing of an applicant’s completed work, whether professional or personal, offers better insight into priorities and work ethics, both by content and presentation. Finally, Listing of blogs is a great window into several insights about a person. The blogs an applicant follows can show continued interest in a professional field, showcase personality traits, reveal hobbies, and show digital proficiency. These examples are just scratching the surface on some of the more direct and up to date insights into an applicant.
I believe these options are far more valuable than grading a high school english class’ antiquated lesson in job seeking rhetoric.
(side credit to F. C. Zindell IV for prompting this little article – thank you)
(additional guidance and professional input from A. Cranford, HR professional)