Where has all the formality gone?

March 25, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Posted by: Rebecca

I’m about to bring up one of those topics that may be considered as “controversial” as the one-page v. two-page resume debate.  It’s a two-word topic with the power to make any job seeker cringe with dread and feel like curling up in the fetal position (maybe I’m exaggerating.)

The topic?  Cover letters.

AKHIA EVP Ben Brugler, who probably sees dozens of cover letters each month, brought up a great question about this topic on the AKHIA Facebook Page.

AKHIA Facebook Page

Ben’s question made me wonder… Where has all the formality gone? How do you draw the line between impersonal and unprofessional?

Shantae and I discussed formality in cover letters, and we seem to have different views on this topic.  We both believe a cover letter should be well-written, compelling and concise; however, our feelings on a traditional cover letter v. an e-mail job solicitation differ.

Shantae goes the more “traditional” route; she believes you should always address a person as Mr., Ms. or Mrs., even in job-related e-mail conversations.  Although I would always address a supervisor or hiring manager formally in a traditional cover letter, I may address the individual by his or her first name once we’ve exchanged several e-mails.

Although I see Shantae’s point, I can’t help but wonder.  Gen-Y supervisors often coordinate internship programs, and a 20-something-year-old professional may prefer to be addressed by his or her first name.  At the same time, a Baby Boomer who is in charge of hiring may lose respect for a potential employee if addressed by his or her first name.

Entry-level job applicants are always encouraged to push their limits, be creative and step outside the box to stand out.  So here’s my question: Where do you draw the line? Is there a way to be formal without being impersonal?


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