The hiring process isn’t always very straightforward, especially in tech, so this question might have many answers depending on who you ask. My opinion is a hard no. A cover letter is not dead.
I think a cover letter is a “document” that can really show who you are, what you can offer a company, and it can set you apart from other applicants. This is especially true for career changers coming from (design) bootcamps as their portfolios many times look like cookie-cutter portfolios.
I’m not going to go into details of creating a cover letter here, as I’ve written a post on that topic before and I believe it’s still accurate, but if you’re curious about how to write a cover letter, click here.
Today I want to give you step two – a short exercise I give to all career changers that I work with to help them refine your cover letter.
First, let me remind you that a cover letter doesn’t have to be extremely formal but it does have to answer the following questions:
- who are you?
- what makes you think you and the company are a good fit?
- what can you do for the company?
- why are you changing your career (if you’re changing career)?
- who is your connection at the company (if any)?
These can be answered in any order you see fit but make sure you grab readers’ attention right at the beginning or they might not read the full story. For more in-depth insights please read the post: Cover letter for UX designers.
Now, on to the exercise.
- Write your cover letter and print it out.
- Take two different coloured pens.
- Read through the letter again and recognize in which sections you talk about:
- yourself and your own wants and needs.
- the company, their needs, and how you can support them.
- In the first case draw an eye (big and creepy) over the section or sentence in the second draw a heart.
Done? Now, look at your letter. Have you written a love letter or is your letter staring back at you with tons of creepy eyes? If your letter is populated with hearts, go ahead and send it out! Good luck! If not, I challenge you to refine it further.
If the above sounds too abstract, look at the examples below. Here are two cover letters:
And here is the version of both, marked by either an eye or heart:
Do you see the difference?
In the first letter, an applicant talks about themselves and how they can grow in the company, how much they admire it, and how they’d love to work for them.
In the second letter, the applicant talks about the company, how they can reach certain goals together and explains the gap in the CV which is related to the ad itself. The applicant also makes sure that they point out a few details about themselves which they know are important to the company.
This is it. Exercise is completed and you’ve created a cover letter that you are (hopefully) confident to send out. Good luck!
Until next time,