Candidate Guide

Is signing your cover letter old-fashioned ?

If you're planning to apply for an impact job, as in any industry, the cover letter is a prerequisite! In a previous article, we told you about all the elements to include in a cover letter, and today we're going to go into detail on a specific point of the letter: the signature. Is it compulsory? What are the pros and cons? Here's some information that we hope will help you decide whether or not it's useful in your cover letters!

3 Arguments for signing the cover letter

For tradition

The signature is a bit like turkey at Christmas... It's a classic! Companies have got used to it, and many won't find it strange to see your signature at the end of your letter. Some recruiters may even think you've forgotten it, if they consider it normal. Whether or not you should sign your cover letter depends largely on the sector, company or institution you're applying to. To find out whether or not you should sign at the end of your letter, a few indicators can help you, such as :

  • Reading the job offer. Is it a conventional job offer?
  • A visit to the organization's website. Modern, quirky, innovative or classic?
  • The age of the organization. Is it a young company or an old one?

For an organization with classic, old-fashioned codes, a handwritten signature may be appreciated;

To show your professionalism

The signature also shows that you take responsibility for the content of your letter. It's a sign of your commitment to the position you're applying for, and reinforces your professionalism. Of course, there are also other ways of showing your professionalism, such as writing a structured letter, specifying that you are available for a job interview at the end of the letter, writing a polite formula ("Yours sincerely") or adding attachments to your online application (or to a motivational e-mail), such as your curriculum vitae and/or a letter of recommendation.

To be authentic

Putting your signature at the bottom of your letter also adds a personal touch to your cover letter. Your signature is your brand, your name. Adding a handwritten signature gives it a more authentic feel than a letter that's 100% digital.

3 Arguments against signing the cover letter

The signature is obsolete

In the digital age, some recruiters might not think it's worthwhile to see a signature at the bottom of a cover letter. It might even be a bit of a has-been. More and more recruiters are using online application forms, where resumes and cover letters are sent electronically. The handwritten signature may therefore lose some of its meaning in this context;

Signing is not possible for everyone

If you have health problems or certain physical limitations, you may not be able to sign by hand. On the principle of equal opportunity, if you are unable to sign, you can do without, perhaps specifying your disability in your letter.

So sign or not?

Now, we're not here to tell you whether you should sign or not. The important thing is to follow the employer's instructions when sending your application. If you are asked for a signature, unless you are unable to do so, you can add a handwritten signature at the bottom of your letter. If you are given the choice, we advise you to find out all you can about the company, the position on offer or the position you are applying for if you are making an unsolicited application, and to judge by the employer's expectations whether or not you should sign. In all cases, it's important that the content of your letter is clear, concise and convincing, and includes examples that illustrate your skills and strengths in meeting the job's requirements. And, as you may have guessed, it's not your signature that's going to make you stand out! Recruiters focus their attention on elements that bring out your personality, your career plan, your ability to get straight to the point or a clean layout, for example. It's also quite possible that spelling mistakes are more obvious to your recipient than a lack of signature. Proofreading is therefore more important than a signature. Recruiters will generally look more closely at these elements than at your signature, which will be more of a formality for most of them.

Further information

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👉 10 tips for a successful job interview

👉 5 cover letter examples

👉 Some tips for writing an original cover letter.

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