Are Social Media Applications the New Cover Letter?

From the perspective of a recent grad, Gen Y who envisions working in a loft office, flexible hours, with office dogs and unlimited vacation time (yes, this exists), I say yes!

My LinkedIn, Twitter and personal blog do a much better job at giving potential employers a snapshot of my abilities, education and experience.

Now that social media and job searching are two peas in a pod, there is much debate about the value of a traditional, three-paragraph cover letter prefacing a resume. Do employers read cover letters? Do employers expect cover letters? Would an employer prefer a more creative application, like a video on YouTube, or a Twitter campaign?

Depending on the industry, the job ad and the employer, one could answer yes and no for each question.

While it does depend on the job I’m applying to, I am more likely to include a shorter message in the body of my email that links to my social networking pages rather than writing a traditional cover letter about my experiences and strengths.

Mashable recently posted about 30 startups who asked potential summer interns to apply through social media outlets. Large companies ask for applicants to apply via social media outlets, too. For example, MasterCard is asking interns to check out #internswanted, their Facebook and LinkedIn page to find out application details (they’re asking for a cover letter in addition to a creative component).

What’s your brand?

Employers concerned with their employee’s personal brand are more likely to ask potential employees to apply through social media avenues (likely in addition to a traditional resume). Personal branding is important in fields such as communications, public relations, publishing, marketing, and of course, social media. If you are applying for a job in any one of these fields and you don’t link to social media applications in your cover letter, I wouldn’t expect a call back.

Revisiting my original questions: Can social media applications replace the cover letter?

Ok, probably not. Not yet.

I probably couldn’t write a cover letter that would better promote my personal brand, strengths and work examples than my blog and social media pages can, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to ditch the cover letter.

Employers aren’t likely to read a cover letter top to bottom before they read a resume. I once surveyed 20 employers at a career fair and found that twelve out of twenty employers read the cover letter. Of those twelve, six said they read the cover letter before the resume and six said they read the cover letter after the resume. Four out of twenty said they won’t read the cover letter at all.

While is it likely an employer won’t read a cover letter in full, it is likely that an application won’t be considered if the applicant didn’t make the effort to write a covering letter.

My advice is to use your judgement, always follow application guidelines and research the company. A younger, newer, Gen Y company probably appreciates a less restricted application while an established, larger company likely requires a standard, formal cover letter and resume to pass through the HR gates.

Do you think the traditional cover letter is still necessary?

This entry was posted in Careers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • Free Resume Builder

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image