Cover Letters – Do We Need Them?

Female executive smiling over documents

If you have recently completed a job application, you may have noticed that some job sites or companies still require a cover letter, some make it optional, and some don’t ask for one at all. It’s easy to feel like you’re forgetting something when you leave the cover letter off your application because we have grown accustomed to putting in the time and creative effort to sell ourselves through the cover letter. Are cover letters going extinct? And if not, do we need them?

The cover letter is intended to introduce your professional skills and background, illustrate your excitement for the specific company or role, and set you apart from other candidates.

More often, hiring managers or recruiters determine if you are a viable candidate for the position within seconds. They don’t have the time to thoroughly review a cover letter. So, how do we go about dealing with this gray area? Below are a few tips to determine which route to take when tackling the cover letter debacle.

  1. If a cover letter is required for the position that you’re applying for, make sure you have researched the company and explain how your skills would be of value to what they are looking for in an employee. Express your unique voice and prove that you know something about the company. Don’t go the generic route.
  2. If the cover letter is option, always add one. Whether the hiring manager or recruiter reads the letter or not, at least they saw that you put in the time and effort to create and upload a cover letter. It illustrates that you are excited about the position and that you are willing to go the extra mile which can prove how you will be as an employee – motivated.
  3. If no cover letter is required, send a follow-up email to introduce yourself and express why you want to work for the specific company and in the role that they are filling.

Regardless if a cover letter is required or not, you should always find any way during the application process to set yourself apart.

Cover letters may be dinosaurs, but they’re not extinct yet. Until then, take all necessary steps to make sure that you are doing everything you can to stand out against the competitor.


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