Cover Letter Trends for 2016

Nancy Anderson
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The overall purpose of a cover letter is always the same: to attract enough positive attention from a hiring manager to get you consideration for a job. However, new cover letter trends do pop up from time to time. For 2016, your cover letter should be all about communicating your value as a potential employee in an up-to-date manner. Here is what you need to know about writing an effective cover letter this year.

Traditional cover letters are usually a single typed page, which makes them a little too long for hiring managers to read on their mobile devices. An old-fashioned cover letter also tends to stick to a tried and tested, but somewhat dated format: introduction, two or three body paragraphs and a conclusion that sums up why you are a good candidate. In 2016, you have to cater to hiring managers' needs to review cover letters on the go. You also need to make strong statements about your value as a potential employee.

Instead of writing a one-page cover letter, aim to use no more than 150 words to summarize your skills and tell the hiring manager why you are a good fit for the organization. Because shorter letters are easier to read on tablets and phones, you may give yourself an edge by making your cover letter more accessible to the reader. It takes practice to write such a short cover letter, so don't be upset if you don't write a perfect draft on the first try. Go back and trim excess words until you reach your desired word count.

Attention spans are shorter these days, especially among people who are used to reading emails, checking social media and doing dozens of other tasks on the go. Instead of using the tried-and-true format of introducing yourself, taking a few paragraphs to summarize your skills and closing with a value proposition, you need to make your entire cover letter communicate your value to hiring managers. Don't beat around the bush in your introduction; jump right into why you are the best candidate for the job.

Effective cover letters make good use of white space, so don't feel like you have to cram all of your words into one or two paragraphs. If you expect the hiring manager to read your letter on a mobile device, it's especially important to use short paragraphs and make use of bold formatting to break up text. When people read things online, they tend to skim the content, so you need to use headers or bold text to make important information stand out.

Finally, don't use overly formal language when writing a cover letter. You want your letter to read as if it's an interesting story — not a boring wall of text the hiring manager is forced to read. Make sure the story you tell is one that convinces the hiring manager you are the solution to her problems.

Cover letter trends are always changing, but you still have the same goal. Write something that communicates your value and makes hiring managers want to learn more about your professional skills and work experience; just remember to format it appropriately for changing business needs and hiring practices.

Photo courtesy of krishna arts at



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