You don’t necessarily need to include a cover letter when applying for jobs, and you might be wasting time by submitting cover letters that employers won’t read, according to a little-known fact about cover letters.
Consequently, if you’re unsure whether you should always include a cover letter with your resume and application for a job, keep reading.
I’m going to disclose the precise circumstances in which you should submit a cover letter and the circumstances in which it is not required, having worked as a recruiter for years.
Should You Always Submit a Cover Letter?
It’s common knowledge on LinkedIn and other sites that you should always add a cover letter since it “can’t hurt,” however that is untrue…
This is how it COULD harm you:
Writing an excellent cover letter takes a LOT of time and effort. Therefore, if it isn’t helping or even being read, it is costing you time and energy (I’d say that for many job searchers, writing a cover letter is the most complex and most time-consuming portion of the process).
Every time, cover letters require a lot of time (at least when done right).
Because of this, it’s critical to consider the significance of a cover letter and the circumstances in which it is required and actually helpful.
3 Situations Where You Need to Send a Cover Letter:
There are a few particular circumstances where cover letters are required, and you should submit one of those. The best way to put it is in this Harvard Business Review article:
There are really only a few times to use a cover letter:
- When you know the name of the person hiring
- When you know something about the job requirement
- When you’ve been personally referred (which might include 1 and 2)
In those circumstances, you can increase your chances of receiving the interview by drafting a brief letter to highlight parallels between your resume and the job requirements (explaining, for example, why you’d be successful in their position)… rather than leaving the hiring manager’s analysis to their sole discretion.
However, this is only worthwhile if you fall into one or more of the categories listed above, or in a few other circumstances that I’ll list below…
Two more cases where you may want to include a cover letter:
If an employer clearly states on their website or job application form that a cover letter is required, you should send one. However, having an optional field to include a cover letter does not equate to asking for or stating that it is required.
Second, if you have a significant employment gap or some odd circumstance in your career that you feel the need to explain and you don’t think your resume adequately addresses on its own, you should submit a letter.
(However, wherever possible, I like to address work gaps directly on your resume’s employment history section. For instance, if you took a year off from work to raise your first child, you may write: “2019-2020: One-year leave from work.” Therefore, if you can, attempt to clarify this kind of information in your resume.
When You Don’t Need a Cover Letter:
A cover letter is not necessary if you do not fit into any of the categories we looked at above.
For instance, I’d skip it if all you do is apply for jobs online using job boards, LinkedIn, corporate websites’ “careers” pages, etc. Send your resume, and let it do the talking. (You can also receive assistance here if you don’t yet have a strong résumé.)
I don’t think it’s worth the extra time and effort to apply online when you don’t know the hiring manager, don’t have a referral and don’t have any specific knowledge of the job criteria that you can use to convince them to interview you.
Because a cover letter is not required nor even anticipated, LinkedIn EasyApply is one of the online job search tools I adore the most.
Of course, you get to make the final decision!
You should definitely write a strong cover letter if you’re applying to your dream company and don’t mind devoting an hour to it. In a one-off situation like this, it can’t hurt.
But here’s what I’m really trying to say:
Instead of sending a cover letter out of habit, you should be judicious about when you do.
Recap: How Important is a Cover Letter?
The hiring procedure and circumstances determine how crucial a cover letter is. You now know when a cover letter is required or advised, and when you probably shouldn’t bother if you read the information above.
You’ve also seen that cover letters might be useful in some situations, but it doesn’t imply you should always include one.
Additionally, as was already indicated, this method saves time.
If you write cover letters without considering if they are necessary for the circumstance, it can build up to hours or days of wasted time when you consider how much time and work goes into writing each of these letters.
Tips for Writing a Good Cover Letter:
After addressing the questions of whether a cover letter is required and when it is crucial, the following advice and resources can help you when you decide that a cover letter is required:
Keep it short, easy to read (don’t use long paragraphs or blocks of text without spaces), and personable, to start with.
You want them to believe you are speaking to them directly. This implies that instead of beginning with “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter,” start with “Dear Bethany,” for example.
(Cover letters are generally not important to recruiters. It must be addressed to the hiring manager).
Additionally, make sure you use the phrase “you” at least as frequently as the word “I.” Don’t only talk about yourself; also mention their needs and the firm.
Your cover letter should highlight how your experience and the employer’s employment needs are similar. To persuade them to interview you, you must show them why you are likely to succeed in their particular role. And you can’t do that without learning about, comprehending, and talking about their profession. Therefore, this message isn’t just for you; it’s also for them.
We’ve written two articles on Indiahires with excellent advice on cover letters to further assist you:
- 3 steps to writing a cover letter that stands out
- How to write a cover letter with no experience
If you take the above actions, you’ll minimize the time spent on your job search and increase the number of interviews you receive for the time spent on your job applications.