Are you looking for a job and trying to determine what will help you and what’s a waste of time?
We’ve all been there.
One of the most confusing aspects of job applications is cover letters.
Sometimes businesses will require a cover letter, but other times they will be optional.
Are they really optional, though, or is that just a trick businesses use to weed out applicants?
Is a cover letter necessary?
The short answer is: sometimes.
This guide will help you with some tips for creating a better cover letter if you need to write one at all.
Table Of Contents
Is a Cover Letter Necessary?
Cover letters can be a time-consuming step for job applicants, but they are usually worth the extra work.
Even if the company doesn’t require one, a personalized letter can help your application stand out among the sea of contenders.
However, make sure you know the differences between a cover letter and a letter of interest.
You don’t want to make a negative first impression by sending in the wrong kind.
Do You Need a Cover Letter for an Internship?
You should typically write a cover letter for your internship applications.
This is especially helpful for younger candidates or anyone who doesn’t have much relevant job experience listed on their resume.
Cover letters provide an excellent opportunity to expand on your resume.
Do You Need a Cover Letter for a Part-Time Job?
Just like for an internship, it’s a good idea to write a cover letter when applying for a part-time job.
Don’t treat part-time applications any differently than you would a full-time position.
Treating these applications the same way will show the recruiters that you take the opportunity seriously, and a cover letter can help with that.
Is It Unprofessional Not To Have a Cover Letter?
If your application didn’t specify whether a cover letter was necessary, should you still write one?
You might worry that omitting a cover letter could make you look unprofessional or like you’re not taking the application seriously.
But what do the recruiters think?
Do Employers Actually Want Cover Letters?
That depends on the employer.
While the Glassdoor poll showed that most employers don’t think cover letters are a must, Glassdoor career trends expert Tyler Murphy told CNBC that they can help your application stand out.
Lori Cole, a career coach and advisor with iHire, says taking the extra time to write a cover letter will almost always pay off.
“Even if it’s short and sweet, a cover letter will help you stand out and earn more interviews,” Cole said, adding that more than 76% of hiring managers told iHire they read every single cover letter they receive.
Can a Cover Letter Hurt Your Chances?
Attaching a cover letter to your application will never hurt your chances of getting the job.
Recruiters won’t turn down applications just because they have a cover letter.
If anything, the additional resource will make your application stand out more.
Reasons a Cover Letter Is Important
A cover letter is an invaluable resource that helps hiring managers and recruiters get to know you.
Make sure you personalize each cover letter to the company you’re applying for and include the following cover letter fundamentals.
Gives the Hiring Manager Details About Your Value
Your resume shows any relevant job experience and can paint a general picture of your work experience.
But there’s more to you than that, and it’s often the non-resume things about you that can secure you a job.
Your cover letter gives you a chance to tell the hiring manager about who you are and explain why you think you’re the right fit for the job.
Let your voice and your personality shine through!
Helps You Explain Any Issues With Your Resume
If there’s a gap in your resume or none of your prior job experience is directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, a cover letter can help.
A lack of direct experience doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not fit for the job.
If you have any issues with your resume, explain them in your cover letter!
Let them know why there’s a gap in your resume.
Maybe you stayed home with young kids, went back to school, or cared for a sick relative.
If you don’t have any relevant experience, you can use the opportunity to plead your case and convince the hiring team that you have the necessary qualifications.
Gives You the Chance To Explain Why You Want the Job
Everyone who applies wants the job.
You can use your cover letter to help explain the specific reasons why you want the job and why you’re the most qualified person to fill the position.
Increases Your Chances of an Interview
Hiring managers look through tons of applications for every position and it’s easy for your information to get caught up in the mix.
If you include a cover letter that shows passion and personality, it could help your application make it to the top of the stack.
Make sure you are properly addressing the cover letter.
This will show that you were diligent in your application and are taking the process seriously, which could help increase your chances of getting an interview.
Helps the Hiring Manager See How Your Personality Would Fit in With the Team
Job qualifications aren’t typically the only thing that hiring managers care about.
They also want to know that your personality will fit into the team you’d be joining.
It’s easy to showcase your personality in an interview, but not all applicants make it that far.
Try to make your cover letter personable and show them who you are.
When Not To Write a Cover Letter
While a cover letter is typically a good idea, there are some times you may want to forego one.
When the Employer Instructs You Not To
This one may seem like common sense.
If the employer you’re applying to specifically says not to include a cover letter, you should respect their wishes.
This is one of the few times a cover letter may be detrimental to your chances.
When It Isn’t Requested and You Have Poor Writing Skills
If a cover letter is optional for the application and you aren’t very good at writing, you probably shouldn’t worry about writing one.
If writing isn’t one of your strong suits but you want to submit a cover letter, consider having a skilled friend or relative read over your writing and help you with some edits.
When There Is No Way To Submit It
If the application doesn’t have a spot to attach or submit a cover letter, you don’t have to bend over backward to include one.
The lack of space for a cover letter is likely the company’s way of subtly letting you know that they don’t care about cover letters and probably won’t read them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequent questions about whether a cover letter is necessary for all applications.
Do I need a cover letter when applying online?
Yes, a cover letter is just as helpful in online applications as in in-person ones.
Do HR recruiters read cover letters?
Not all recruiters will read cover letters, but many do.
In the worst-case scenario, they won’t read it and your resume will have to speak for itself.
But if they do read it, the extra writing will be worth it!
Overall, it’s almost always a good idea to include a cover letter with all of your job applications.
Elaborate on your resume and help the hiring manager get to know you.
A good cover letter can make or break your chances of getting an interview, so including one is almost always beneficial, unless the job posting specifically requests that you don’t include one.
Do you have more questions about cover letters or the job application process?
Let us know in the comments below, and happy job hunting!