Online job application with NO cover letter

I am currently looking for work. I found an potential job on a job site I visit, which directed me to apply through the company web site. Ok, no problem.

So I go to the site and fill out this online form and upload my résumé. I expect to be asked for a cover letter/introductory text on the next screen. But no–just a screen that confirms I have applied for job number whatever. I received an e-mail with my password to be able to update my file on-line, but it doesn’t confirm that I have applied for the job.

Now, for once I was actually quite happy with the cover letter I prepared. I couldn’t find an e-mail for human resources on the site. They give the head office postal address as the contact information for human resources (which is where I would be working if I got the job). So do I send a paper cover letter and résumé to HR at that address explaining that I want to highlight why I am such a great fit for the job and also because I didn’t get a confirmation e-mail? Or is HR just going to be annoyed for getting more paper? Also, is not requesting a cover letter normal? It seems to me that it is almost as important as the résumé itself!

If the job is one which you can apply for through the company web site, then they don’t want a cover letter. The cover letter is an ancient relic that goes back before you could tailor your resume to the specific job you’re applying for.

I’d read the description of the job on the company web site and then make sure my resume makes me seem like a match for the job.

Yeah, don’t worry about it. Most of the resumes I reviewed when we were hiring didn’t have them or, if they did, the cover letters were long gone. When I submit someone for an internal job I paste their resume into a blank form - no place for a cover letter. The best thing to do is to customize a resume for each job, with perhaps an initial statement highlighting the areas most important for that particular job.

Back in the old days when resumes came in on paper with cover letters, there were very few that influenced me at all. I was far more interested in the actual skills.

Thanks for your replies. I have learned something new today! Namely that I, at the venerable age of 37, have been living in the past!

I wish there were more of these. I hate writing cover letters.

That’s great news- I’m also a 37 year old relic of the past and the cover letter thing has been given me the hives :). Even when I recruited staff for a small business, I couldn’t care less about them (unless they had blatant mistakes), and I get tired of re-figuring it for every job along with the resume.

My last job I held for almost a decade, so this crazy new job hunting world is hard to get used too!

Well, not to rain on your parade, but I recently applied at a local community college, and they didn’t ask for a cover letter, but, when I went to email my resume in, I was one document short, and that turned out to be the cover letter.
Point being, look ALL around the website and make sure that there isn’t a cover letter requirement. I would have thought that a college would have a bit more order that to make me have to discover a requirement by myself, but, who knows?


No worries- I’ll still use it if it’s obvious they want one, and I know some of the state jobs I’ve applied for have specified having one.

I notice you are not in the U.S. Hiring practices vary more than you think between the two countries, so take all advice from the U.S., including mine, with that in mind.

That said, while there are many jobs that don’t require a cover letter, I think now you are in a good position to just print out that cover letter with a copy of your resume and put it in the mail. Indicate that you also applied online, but don’t mention the failure to receive a confirmation. That’s just a downer.

If it is a genuinely good cover letter and you are genuinely good fit for the job, it might help you stand out. It is unlikely to do any harm beyond the cost of a stamp.

I agree that it wouldn’t do any harm, but in a big company like mine (also high tech) you might have to be lucky if anything is ever done with a paper letter. Our hiring system is totally on-line, and a paper cover letter/resume would have to be scanned in, unless the person getting the letter knew of the person who was interested in that candidate. (The days of having HR people with enough time to keep up like this are long past, alas.)
One professor for some reason told his grad students to send paper resumes, and not emailed ones. I did tell him it didn’t work, but they kept coming. I suppose I would have done something with one that really stood out, but the effort of getting it on-line for the off-chance that someone would be interested was just too great.

I suspect that a paper resume would work a lot better in a small company where the lines of communication are more physical than electronic.

How I could see it helping the candidate is more along the lines of someone looking it over, saying “Hey, this one looks pretty good, did we pull it out of the slush pile?” and flagging it in the online system or moving it up the queue.

Thanks for the caveat and the advice. I will pop the letter and a paper copy of my resume in the mail.

Update: I just got a phone call from VP of HR from the company. I am going in to meet him tomorrow! Just a preliminary meeting, I think, but still encouraging. For me, the worst part of being unemployed is the blow to my self-esteem, so any interest helps.

Great news! Hope it goes well!