Can LinkedIn truly be the new cover letter? The short answer is yes! However, that’s boring, so let’s explore why this is true. Of late, I have been seeing articles on Cover Letters – What’s the best way to write a Cover Letter? What should be included in my letter? The short answer is NOTHING. Why?
The Cover Letter is dead. It’s a relic of the 20th Century, along with rotary phones, carbon paper, and the Pet Rock.
More importantly, Recruiters, both inside companies and agencies, don’t look at your Cover Letter. In fact, they’re usually not reading your résumé! That is correct. Most agencies and HR departments have their résumé reading automated. You can easily select keywords and phrases to find the ideal candidate. This is the cold truth at almost every mid to large-sized organization. Mind you, I don’t agree with the process or methodology; however, that’s for another post…
The Cover Letter is dead.
Some people will tell you this is not true. They’re wrong, or over the age of 50. By the way, there is nothing personal or ageist in this fact. However, the Cover Letter idea is absolutely dead with my generation and younger. I’m from Generation X, as are most Hiring Managers TODAY. We grew up playing with Atari, Nintendo, and Commodore. We listened to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine. We Crowd Surfed before Crowd Funding existed. We had awesome see-through Beepers! Do you honestly think anyone from my generation, or younger, is reading a cover letter? If so, I have a bargain on a Betamax Player for you. Besides, the purpose of a Cover Letter was to get an interview – that is all.
The Ugly Truth
I worked as a “Headhunter” on Wall Street for over 10 years, and read exactly zero Cover Letters. You read that correctly and the higher the base pay, the shorter the C.V. usually was. Exactly zero of my clients cared about having Cover Letters, and none read them. The purpose of a Cover Letter, in the past, was to provide a way of showing WHY a person is interested in said position. That is far too time-consuming for the 21st Century. That’s why a Summary is always a good idea to include at the top of a résumé. Use the Summary to explain WHY a hiring manager or Human Resources should interview you. One final point on this, any Recruiter will tell you the most valuable candidates are “Passive Job Seekers.” These are the people not seeking a job, because they are doing well at the “competition.”
Do you think people that are not looking for a job have a Cover Letter? Heck no, and they’re the first to get an interview!
What about LinkedIn?
Exactly here is where LinkedIn fits in. Since résumés are so short, and terribly dreary – no video, no music, no 3D, what’s a person to do? Express yourself on LinkedIn. Your Profile has room for all the things a Cover Letter used to be about, like why do you do what you do? Why do you do THIS job versus another job, and why should another employer care? LinkedIn is the one place today that allows you the tools to answer all the questions a potential employer or hiring manager needs to initiate an interview. Remember, the Cover Letter was about getting an interview, not a “job.”
Every position on your Profile is an opportunity to tell your story.
LinkedIn has all these cool, Multimedia enabled, “tabs” in our Profiles that allow all of us to VISUALLY separate ourselves from the pack. These can be used for any purpose to show WHY you are the perfect person for the opportunity. Not only that, but we have this Real Estate for EVERY position! Where else can you share Videos, Letters, Essays, Certifications, Training, etc. with Business-people that are 100% RELEVANT to your profile? Many Hiring Managers, Recruiters, and Human Resource folks head to LinkedIn when deciding to bring a candidate in. Wouldn’t you? Do you believe you can learn more about a person from their résumé or their LinkedIn Profile?
If You Got It, Flaunt It!
To quote a line written by Mel Brooks for The Producers, “If you got it, then flaunt it baby!” The awesome thing is that LinkedIn gives you tons of toys… er, tools to sell yourself. We have an expression in Racing – my love – “Use ALL of the Track!” If it’s there, it’s in play, just like all the opportunities you have to be unique on LinkedIn, which comes back to getting you the interviews you want. You will recall that this was the purpose of a Cover Letter. This is why I argue that LinkedIn IS the New Cover Letter. So use ALL of what they give you!
You can add ANY Video content you want to your Profile on LinkedIn.
Examples of using LinkedIn as YOUR Cover Letter
– Create a YouTube VIDEO of yourself explaining WHY you are looking for an opportunity and put it in your LinkedIn Profile.
– DRAW your career path out literally, scan it, and put it in your Profile.
– Interview your three best friends and ask them why they would hire you, edit it into a short video, and put it in your Profile.
Note, ALL of these examples can be done on your iPhone or Android device.
The possibilities are endless so embrace them.