Are Cover Letters Necessary to Include for a Job (2021)

Are cover letters necessary to have as part of your job application? It's an important question. And one that many job seekers ask during their job search. Let's determine whether writing and attaching a cover letter to your job application is important.

are cover letters necessary

And whether it's required.

How important is a cover letter?

Here are the studies that are important to note:

Is a cover letter important, then?

Well, yes! A cover letter is very important. An overwhelming majority of HR managers agree, that a cover letter is useful to include.

The issue is that many hiring managers aren't going to read your cover letter. Though, they find it very important to attach one.

Why don't hiring manager's read cover letters anymore? They might not have enough time. And they're more likely to read your resume before your covering letter.

are cover letters necessary

Consider your cover letter one of the many helpful resources that can assist the manager in making a hiring decision, similar to reference letters and recommendation letters.

Is this strange?

It could be considered odd that a hiring manager expects to see a cover letter but might not read it. Why is that?

A manager might use the cover letter as a backup source of information. Presume your resume doesn't speak as loudly as it should. If that's the case, then the hiring manager might use the cover letter to better understand who you are. And what you could offer.

are cover letters necessary

The best way to make sure that your resume doesn't become questioned during the hiring process is to write a customized resume that speaks to the job posting/job description.

When is it necessary to have a cover letter?

Is a cover letter optional? When should a cover letter be included in a job application?

Here's the short answer, always include a cover letter in your job application.

There are some circumstances where you can ensure that cover letter addresses specific employment scenarios for the hiring manager.

are cover letters necessary

Here are a few:

  • Having a confusing resume.
  • Gaps in employment history.
  • When desiring to relocate.
  • When showcasing key skills.
  • Utilizing a personal connection.
  • In cases when information doesn't fit on the resume.

A confusing resume

Presume that the resume has jobs in all types of industries. Or with varying job titles.

This could be a confusing resume for the hiring manager.

In this circumstance, you can use a well-written cover letter to address your work history. And why you're applying to the company and the job title.

This is valuable real estate for a cover letter to address concerns the manager could have in the future.

Gaps in work history (employment gaps)

Having significant gaps in employment history can be confusing to the manager.

Addressing why you have these gaps is an important thing to cover in your letter.

For example, having gaps in employment history due to maternity leave. Or deciding to be a parent for a few years before returning to work.

These are great reasons to take time off. As well as a great reason to return to work.

Your cover letter can address this and ensure the manager is aware of your desire to return to the workforce. And can generally explain gaps in your resume that your resume can't help to address.

A relocation request

Do you currently live in another state? And applying to a job where you will have to request relocation?

If so, this is a great reason to write a cover letter that specifically addresses your desire to move to another state.

are cover letters necessary

In the cover letter, you can include your current address and desired location.

And include a short note that addresses why you're looking to relocate. Or what requirements you could have regarding relocation.

Showcasing key skills

The best use of a cover letter. Writing about your competencies, skills, and other factors that could assist in your job application.

Hiring managers are very interested in learning what you'll bring to the company.

Are there certain skills that you have that can speak to the job description/job posting/job ad requirements?

Use a professional cover letter to speak to work experiences and achievements. These achievements should signify which hard skills and soft skills you can bring to the company.

Pro tip: Be sure to choose the right resume format. It's more common to use a chronological resume than a CV. Learn what a CV is.

Using a personal connection

Having a personal connections with the company is a great way to promote yourself internally.

are cover letters necessary

A connection with the business can be very useful. This person can act as a type of recommendation. Or reference for the particular position.

When the hiring manager reads the cover letter, they'll become aware of who are connected with internally.

And can use that information to their advantage. For example, contacting the person you're connected with to validate your competencies, work history, and more.

Pro tip: Always address the cover letter by using the hiring manager's name.

When information doesn't fit on the resume

If you want to keep your resume to one-page, then a lot of information about yourself might not fit.

In today's job market, a candidate is required to have all of the competencies and skills for a job. A significant amount of work history that speaks to a particular job/job title. And more.

In order to make sure this is all covered in your job application, your resume might lose space.

When that's the case, use your cover letter to include relevant experiences that assist the prospective employer with evaluating your professional history.

Pro tip: Never use the same cover letter and resume for every job application. Always customize your letter to each employer. Their values. And more. A generic cover letter almost never works.

are cover letters necessary

Changing careers

Using a cover letter and going through the "cover letter create" process is useful in evaluating your own work history.

Does your current job not match the new job that you want? Do you want to change careers entirely?

A cover letter can provide the opportunity to speak with the employer and address desired changes in your career.

For example, desiring to change industries. In this case, it's useful to describe how your current job/last job are going to present transferrable skills that be utilized the prospective employer.

When you're very passionate

Being incredibly passionate about a job opening is a great way to stand out. How are you going to explain why your last position or your career makes you extremely passionate about this opportunity?

It's going to be nearly impossible to communicate that through your resume.

Especially since a resume should be very functional. Providing a career objective, work history, education, and certifications.

The cover letter presents a floor to communicate with the manager. And express your desire to work with the company.

You have the opportunity to speak about the company culture, values, and position requirements that resonate with you.

are cover letters necessary

Other circumstances where a cover letter is useful

Writing a great cover letter is always useful, remember that.

Other situations where the cover letter could be even more important is when:

  • You're new to the field. If you're new to the field and you need to explain why you're a great fit for the position, the cover letter would be your place to do that. You get the opportunity to speak directly to the hiring manager.
  • Applying for a higher-level position. Senior executives should always include a cover letter with their job application. It should include references to the industry, their achievements, general plans for the position once they're employed, and display a high degree of writing skills.

Lastly, you should always write a cover letter when you want to stand out from other applicants. And you have a clear idea of how you're going to do that.

Either by meeting/exceeding the job requirements. Or by having a large amount of experience for the specific job you want. This is great real estate to use. Use it!

When can you skip having a cover letter?

When is it appropriate to skip having a cover letter?

  • When your future employer doesn't want one.
  • If the cover letter is weak.
  • When you didn't customize the cover letter.

Note, most job applications will not say "cover letter required" in the application portal. They will always indicate that the cover letter is optional.

If it says "optional," that does not mean that you should skip writing one. All career experts suggest writing a cover letter.

Employer doesn't want one

When your employer specifically says, "A cover letter is not required for this job."

This particular company is not requiring a cover letter. In job postings or a job ad, it's possible that the prospective employer will list this in the description.

Usually, it's placed at the bottom of the job description, where it informs you on how to apply for the position.

are cover letters necessary

It could say something like the following:

To apply for this position, please send an email to [email protected] Please note, you do not need to send us a cover letter for this position. Thank you for your time.

A weak cover letter

Are your writing skills subpar to the position?

It's okay if they are.

Have a friend read through your cover letter and give you honest feedback about the writing. Is it useful to the application? Or less useful?

Skip writing a cover letter if the letter is going to speak something negative about yourself.

Get career advice from a mentor if you feel your writing isn't going to meet the standards of the company you're applying for.

Or, use cover letter examples for the exact position you're applying for. And use that as a guide when writing your own.

A cover letter that isn't customized

It's a requirement to achieve results in your job search. Defining your career success, inside the cover letter, specifically for the job and company you want to work for. This is the best way to ensure that you land your dream job.

If the letter isn't customized to the employer. Or to the hiring manager. And what they require from a successful employee, skip including your letter.

When you write a cover letter email

A cover letter email is when the cover letter is inside the job application email body.

While it's recommended that the cover letter still be included in the job application email, if you decide to write only a cover letter email, then skip the cover letter attachment.

Though, consider what this says about you. Would you write an email without a resume attached? Probably not.

It's best to write both a cover letter email and cover letter, specifically.

Do you need a cover letter and resume?

Do employers read cover letters? Well, the answer is no. Though remember, it's very important to write cover letters for the job and company that you want to be employed at.

Writing a cover letter, specifically for the job you want, is the best way to ensure that the hiring manager understands your passion for the position.

Meaning, a thoughtful cover letter and resume is very important to your job application.

Do you need a cover letter and resume? Yes.

Cover letter format for job seekers

Here is the perfect cover letter format to use. If you're looking for cover letter templates, find the perfect cover letter template here.

What should be inside the letter

Here is what should be inside the letter:

  • Your full name.
  • Contact details.
  • Email address.
  • LinkedIn profile.
  • Current date.
  • Hiring manager's name.
  • Employer's contact information.
  • Three paragraphs, including an opening paragraph, body paragraph, and closing paragraph.

Use the following format to write your own effective cover letter.

Format to use

Contact Details:

Your Name

Phone number

Email

LinkedIn URL

Current date

Hiring Manager’s Name/Recruiter’s Name

Organization/Company Name

Job title

Salutation:

Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Hiring Manager’s Last Name):

When possible, address the reader or specific person the job application is getting sent to.

First Paragraph:

Open with a strong first paragraph that supports what you believe the role and company both value. Use this as a way of telling the hiring manager that the resume and cover letter have gotten designed around your ideas. And around what they value.

Second Paragraph:

Please take a few career achievements and place them here. You can list them in bullet style format or speak to them through significant work experiences. Keep it brief. Mention that you believe these accomplishments show relevant skills and abilities that are right for the job.

Third Paragraph:

Close your cover letter with a clear call to action. Mention available times to have a phone interview. Or suggest they continue to read your resume for more insights on what you can bring to the company.

Closing Sign-off:

Thank you so much for your time,

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I'm looking forward to speaking with you and the team.

Your name

Example cover letter

Below is a basic template for a "good cover letter." And should be used as a guide, only.

-

Eric Anderson

334 Magnolia Lane

Singleton, Minnesota 78958

334-554-0548

[email protected]

-

June 3rd, 2021

-

Dan Hanson

Hiring Manager

Shoots Marketing

8847 Iris Lane

Singleton, Minnesota 78958

-

Mr. Hanson —

Your recent software release that allows for better communication between devices is something that stood out to me. When I began looking more into your company culture, I noticed that you are always seeking to simplify complex challenges. And this is an environment I feel I strongly need to be around.

Since I’m looking to join the company as a Marketing Manager, I felt it’s relevant to share with you my experience at school developing Instagram accounts for coursework. We used viral science and neuroscience background to grow 10 Instagram accounts to over 100k followers in 90 days.

Please view my projects at @nueronetwork to see them in full detail. And please read my resume to find out more relevant work about me. That might show you what I can bring to the internship program.

I’m available to speak by phone or in person at your convenience.

Thank you so much,

Eric Anderson

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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