Is a Cover Letter Necessary?

by | Aug 31, 2021

In addition to your resume, it’s often customary to submit a cover letter to an employer as part of your application. While there’s a debate regarding the importance of a cover letter, most hiring managers consider it necessary. Although it’s common for recruiters and hiring managers to read cover letters, it’s essential that you know what information to include and what to leave out to help you land an interview.  



Is a Cover Letter Necessary?


In a 2009 survey of employer preferences, 56% of employers preferred applications that included a cover letter. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, career experts generally advise you to submit a cover letter to distinguish yourself and your abilities.  If the company requests a cover letter or provides a separate attachment window for a cover letter, you’re sending a cold application to a company, you’ve received a referral, or you know the hiring manager by name, a cover letter is a necessary addition to a successful application. Even if a cover letter is optional, it’s still often expected.  However, there are times when sending a cover letter is unnecessary. If you’re applying to a job posting online and the application form doesn’t allow you to submit a cover letter, don’t worry about it. The company may be using Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to semi-automate the recruitment process. Some entry-level positions also don’t require a cover letter or provide a way of adding one to your submission. 



What is a Cover Letter?


As a job seeker, a cover letter is a document you send to a prospective employer, introducing yourself to the company’s hiring manager and personalizing your job application.  It allows you to explain why you’re the best candidate for the position, leveraging your personality, skills, and experience to differentiate yourself from other applicants. A cover letter can make a significant difference in whether you’re considered for a role in a highly competitive labor market. 



How Do I Write a Cover Letter?


During your job search, you must conduct your research on the firms you intend to apply to. Browse the social media feeds and LinkedIn profiles of the company’s executive team to learn more about the company and its culture. Try to develop a thorough understanding of the company’s products, services, and industry. If possible, contact the hiring manager or someone at the company first, referencing that conversation later to demonstrate your due diligence.  There are several cover letter templates online, but the basic outline is always the same. Address the hiring manager by name, if possible. If you don’t know who the hiring manager or recruiter is, try to find out based on your research. You should start by identifying yourself. Some companies also ask how you learned about their company or where you saw their job postings.  Explain your background and how your skills and experience can benefit the company, offering solutions based on your research. You should read the job description carefully, seeing how you can customize your cover letter to reflect the same information and language it contains.  Complete the letter by thanking the hiring manager for their time and consideration, and write that you’re looking forward to hearing from them at their earliest convenience. 




Cover Letter Tips


Don’t repeat the information contained in your resume, such as your skills or qualifications. Instead, reference the information in your resume, taking the opportunity to personalize and expand on it. The purpose of a cover letter is to complement your resume, not to duplicate it.



Explain Your Experience


You can do this by explaining how your skills will benefit your prospective employer and how they match the company’s goals. Rather than list the skills you think would be applicable, explain how you’ve applied these skills at a previous workplace or on a different project.  If you’ve listed leadership or communication skills in your resume, for instance, provide an example of how you led a team or resolved a problem that required diplomacy or finesse. 



Short and to the Point


Keep your cover letter concise. While many hiring managers regard a cover letter as an essential component of a successful job application, a single page is usually sufficient.  While it may be tempting to reuse a cover letter template with various employers, it’s always best to personalize your cover letter. Some of the information you include will overlap between employers, especially in the same industry; however, the more specific to the job your letter is, the better.




Errors and Inconsistencies


A cover letter containing spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors is unacceptable. You should also avoid inconsistencies and use your cover letter to reflect your professionalism. Like with your resume, your cover letter demonstrates attention to detail.  If you can, ask a friend or family member to proofread your cover letter. You may have missed something only a fresh set of eyes will catch, especially when you’ve revised the same document several times. 



Prepare for Your Job Interview


At JobsFuel, we’re passionate about helping you expand your career prospects, finding the job that best suits you. That includes understanding how to draft the necessary documentation, such as your resume and cover letter, to impress your prospective employer and convince them you’re the right fit for the job.  Don’t neglect these vital parts of the job application process. Browse our blog to find helpful tips on sprucing up your resume, so you have a solid foundation for your cover letter.