Contrary to some, cover letters are not obsolete
Yes, there was a time when a cover letter was an essential part of the job search (or job application) process. Send a potential employer a cover letter with your resume attached and you started the ball rolling.
Then along came the ATS (automated tracking system) and suddenly the cover letter sailed into murky waters.
The real problem is that some ATS systems will accept cover letters and some will not. It’s not necessarily apparent at the outset which is the case and that leaves the job seeker wondering what to do.
For those systems that do not accept cover letters, what you may have to do is, in effect, create a two-page resume with the first page being the cover letter. It’s a work-around which may work.
Regardless, the cover letter has not died and can be a benefit even if you’re applying by ATS. Cover letters are a good place to reference and/or repeat your keywords. Let’s not forget, in the world of the ATS, keywords can make or break getting your application past the first cut.
ATS or not, cover letters can be extremely useful. While your resume should provide a solid presentation as to who are professionally, the cover letter can paint a picture of you the individual – giving the employer an insight into you the person beyond titles, dates and former employers.
In addition, the cover letter – much more than a resume – gives you an opportunity to address the specifics of this particular opportunity and how you can be the best candidate for the job. Therefore, you should draft that cover letter with the same attention to detail that you gave to preparing your resume.
At the end of the day, any advantage can help.