Handwritten Cover Letter Submission: Is It Acceptable?

In today’s digital age, most job applications are submitted online, yet some job seekers wonder if a handwritten cover letter is still acceptable. Drawing from my extensive experience, I will explore the nuances and suitability of this traditional approach.

Key Takeaways

  • Appropriateness: Handwritten cover letters are generally not the norm but may be suitable for creative or personal-touch industries.
  • Legibility: Always ensure handwriting is neat and legible; consider professional handwriting or calligraphy if yours is not.
  • Personalization: A handwritten letter can showcase personality and effort, making a memorable impression.
  • Paper and Ink: Use high-quality paper and ink to convey professionalism.
  • Digital Copy: Always include a typed, digital version of the cover letter unless explicitly requested otherwise.

Step 1: Evaluate the Industry and Company Culture





Before deciding to write a handwritten cover letter, consider the industry and specific company culture. For instance, industries like creative arts, boutique retail, or organizations that value artisanal work might appreciate the personal touch of handwriting. 

However, for more formal fields like finance, law, or engineering, a typed letter is generally expected and viewed as more professional.

  • Example: In my experience, candidates applying to a boutique stationery store with a handwritten cover letter received positive feedback for aligning with the company’s appreciation for paper products and personal touches.

Step 2: Assess Your Handwriting Quality

The legibility of your handwriting is crucial. If you decide a handwritten cover letter is suitable, ensure your handwriting is not only legible but also aesthetically pleasing. If handwriting isn’t one of your strengths, consider getting it professionally done or stick to a typed version.

  • Tip: Practice on a separate sheet before writing the final version to avoid mistakes and ensure consistency in your lettering.

Step 3: Choose Quality Materials

Using high-quality stationery can make a significant difference. Opt for a neutral, professional paper stock and a high-quality pen to enhance the presentation of your cover letter. This reflects a level of professionalism and respect towards the recipient and the application process.

  • Materials List:
    • Paper: 24lb or higher, cream or white
    • Pen: Black or dark blue ink, avoid gel pens that smudge

Step 4: Keep the Content Professional and Concise

A handwritten cover letter should follow the same structure as a typed letter: an introduction, why you’re a good fit for the job, a brief overview of your qualifications, and a call to action. Ensure that your tone remains professional and that you directly address how your skills and experiences align with the job description.

  • Structure Example:
    • Opening: Address the hiring manager by name.
    • Introduction: Briefly introduce yourself and state the position you are applying for.
    • Body: Highlight relevant experiences and skills.
    • Conclusion: Express your enthusiasm for the role and invite further discussion.

Step 5: Include a Digital Copy

Even if you submit a handwritten cover letter, it’s advisable to provide a digital copy as well. This ensures that all information is easily accessible to the hiring manager and can be shared with other decision-makers in the company.

  • Tip: Attach a scanned copy of the handwritten letter in an email or include it as part of your application package.

Real-Life Example

In one case, a client applied to a small bookshop with a handwritten cover letter. The personal touch resonated well with the store’s quaint, personalized atmosphere, leading to a successful interview. 

However, for another client applying to a tech startup, the same approach was perceived as outdated, underscoring the importance of understanding the industry.

Conclusion: Balancing Tradition and Modern Expectations

While handwritten cover letters can be a charming touch in the right contexts, they are generally not the standard and should be used judiciously. Always consider the industry, company culture, and your ability to produce a neat and professional document. By marrying tradition with modern job application expectations, you can set yourself apart in a personalized way.

  • Final Tip: Always follow up with an email or phone call to ensure your application was received and to express your continued interest.

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