Do I need a cover letter?
Yes, you do need a cover letter in several situations. Here’s when to always use a cover letter if you’re applying for a job online:
- the job description requests or requires a cover letter
- someone at the company said you could include their referral on your cover letter
- The job demands writing and communication skills
Even if the job description says “cover letter optional”, it’s still important to write a great cover letter and attach it to your resume. Competition is fierce for the best positions, so why not give yourself the extra opportunity to impress an employer?
We recently conducted a survey and discovered that the majority of job seekers don’t even submit cover letters with their applications. By simply including a cover letter with your resume, you set yourself apart from other applicants.
Why is a cover letter important when applying for work?
Cover letters (also known as letters of application) are most important if you’re serious about getting a specific job. If you take the time to write and submit a thoughtful cover letter, it improves your chance of hearing back from that employer.
Here are three reasons why taking the time to write a cover letter is important and worth the effort.
1. Cover letters complement your resume
Your resume provides a concise, black-and-white look at your qualifications, background, and skills. Your cover letter, on the other hand, adds a bit of color to your application — giving employers a preview of your personality and motivations.
For instance, if you list accomplishments on your resume, you have room to elaborate on those accomplishments in your cover letter. Or you can take examples from your resume’s work experience section, and use your cover letter to write about how that experience makes you the best candidate.
You can also use your cover letter to clear up parts of your resume an employer might be concerned about. For example — do you have a history of job hopping or being unemployed for long periods of time? Or is the address on your resume from a different state than where the company is located?
2. Cover letters showcase your communication skills
Believe it or not, written and verbal communication is important in many industries. And while your resume is a great place to claim you have a range of job skills, writing a cover letter gives you a chance to show you actually have some of those skills, like communication.
Even if your background is in hard sciences or engineering, you still need to write reports, send emails, and communicate with colleagues. Adding a cover letter to your resume helps demonstrate your communication skills, and could be the factor that makes your application stand out and land you the job.
3. Cover letters help you overcome a lack of experience
If you’re a recent graduate and your most impressive work experience is relevant coursework, then submitting a cover letter is a good way to assure the employer you have the right attitude.
Companies value passionate, engaged employees, and understand that all of our professional journeys begin somewhere. Your cover letter is an opportunity to highlight your passion for a particular career or industry, and show how even without experience, you’re ready to learn and grow quickly in the role.
Cover letter resources
If you’re still unsure if a cover letter is necessary or not, then you should write a cover letter just to be safe. Here are our top resources and cover letter tips to ensure your cover letter improves your application:
Cover letter writing how-to guides
- How to write a cover letter
- How to address your cover letter
- How to start a cover letter
- How to end a cover letter
Cover letter formatting
- Cover letter format
- How long should a cover letter be (TLDR: 250-400 words)
- Cover letter spacing
- Cover letter fonts
Cover letter templates
- Cover letter templates
- Basic cover letter templates
- Modern cover letter templates
- Google docs cover letter templates
Cover letter examples