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3 times you can skip the cover letter—and the 1 time you absolutely shouldn't
Some job listings will say "cover letter required," while others don't include any mention about it at all. When it comes to the latter, many applicants often wonder, Should I submit one in anyway?
It's a competitive job market out there, and hiring managers and job recruiters today spend about six seconds reviewing each resume . According to Glassdoor , a job search and salary comparison website, approximately 250 resumes are submitted for each corporate job listing, and only five or so candidates will be called for an interview.
So when is it necessary to send a cover letter? Here's the thing: Hiring managers love them — they get you noticed quickly, show you've gone the extra mile and demonstrate how much you really want the job.
A bad cover letter, however, can hinder your objectives .
Don't submit a cover letter if...
1. You have no interest in personalizing the cover letter: Many applicants will Google "cover letter examples," pick one in a rush and model their cover letter after it. By doing so, not only will it be evident that you submitted a cover letter designed for mass distribution, but you might have overlooked some mistakes, like addressing the letter to the wrong person, company or even listing the wrong position you're applying for.
(Trust me, this is something hiring managers see all the time, and it's absolutely cringing. It also takes away from their valuable time that could be spent reviewing your resume.)
2. You don't have anything new to say: Hiring managers expect to read a compelling and impressive cover letter, not an exact replicate of your resume. (Think about how you felt when writing your personal statement for all those college applications; it was a big deal and you knew the admissions office were looking for someone who they'd feel proud to have representing their school).
It's no different with cover letters. Do you have any unusual hobbies that led you to be interested in the field of work you're applying for? Is there a backstory that explains why you admire the company? Whatever you write, just don't elaborate on your job history and skills (that's what the resume is for).
3. You only have ideas on how to improve the company
Save the problem-solving suggestions for the job interview (that is, if you're luck enough to get one), when you'll 100 percent be asked those similar questions (i.e., "what would you improve about [XYZ]?"). A cover letter can be used as an opportunity to demonstrate your job knowledge, but don't use it as an outlet to tell your prospective employer what they are doing wrong and how to fix it.
No one likes hearing negative things about their business from a stranger, even if your feedback has merit. Curiosity, humility and tact will trump a "know-it-all" every time. Focus on the positive aspects and potential solutions for the business.
When to include a cover letter
Notwithstanding the above, the only time you should submit a cover letter is when you have valuable information to share that's not conveyed in your resume.
I've hired many candidates based on something that stood out in their cover letter. Here are some examples:
1. A personal connection or referral: If you were personally introduced to a hiring manager (or someone high up in the company), always acknowledge that relationship in a cover letter. Who made the introduction? How you know them? Why did they think you are a good fit for the role? A personal referral goes a long way, so don't miss out on capturing the advantage.
2. You have a history with the company or hiring team: If you have any link to the organization, it's essential to connect the dots. Did you intern at the company? Did you cross paths when you worked for a supplier, a competitor or even a team member in a previous company? You never want to surprise the recruiter and have them hear about the connection from someone else; getting ahead of it will make you an exciting candidate and demonstrate that you're a transparent and a proactive communicator.
3. It's your dream job: If the position you're applying for indeed is your dream job, write a personal and heartfelt cover letter. Take the opportunity to demonstrate that you've researched the company and workplace culture well. If you're going through the trouble of writing a fantastic personalized cover letter, do everything in your power to email it directly to the hiring manager, so it doesn't get lost alongside hundreds or even thousands of other applicants in the automated applicant tracking system.
Debby Carreau is an entrepreneur, author and founder of Inspired HR . She has been recognized as one of Canada's Top 25 HR Professionals and is a regular contributor on multiple TV shows, Entrepreneur Magazine and many other print and online publications. She is a board member for YPO and Elevation Group as well as an Advisory Board member for FinDev Canada.
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Finally, an Answer To: Are Cover Letters Still Necessary?
Hot jobs on the muse.
The cover letter is a contender for job seekers’ most hated part of the job search. Personally, when browsing job boards, I’ve always gravitated toward the postings that said “cover letter optional” or didn’t mention one at all— and I’m a writer. When you’re deep in a job hunt—particularly one where you feel like you’re throwing applications into a black hole—cover letters might feel pointless. It’s not like we’re mailing out our resumes anymore—so what is the letter covering? Does anyone read cover letters anymore? Are cover letters even necessary at all, or are they outdated?
I set out to find the answer by speaking to experts, combing through studies, and putting out a call to hiring managers and recruiters to find out how they handle cover letters when they’re making hires.
Does Anyone Still Read Cover Letters?
In a 2020 survey of 236 hiring managers and recruiters, ResumeGo found that 87% of respondents read cover letters. Only 13% did not. I got similar answers in my own research. The overwhelming majority of recruiters and hiring managers I heard from—folks who work across career functions and industries—told me they do still read cover letters in some capacity.
The most common answers I got were that hiring professionals read cover letters:
- For all qualified applicants
- For any candidates they’re considering moving to the next step of the hiring process
- For any candidates who are on the border of being moved forward
- For any candidates whose resumes raised questions for them
So if you’re submitting applications to any opening you come across and apply for a manager-level position as an entry-level candidate, or upload a teaching-focused resume for an accounting job, don’t be surprised if your cover letter gets skipped. For the most part, if your resume doesn’t even come close, no one is going to bother reading your cover letter, says Muse career coach Eliot Kaplan , who spent 18 years as VP of Talent Acquisition at Hearst Magazines before founding Eliot Kaplan Coaching .
This does mark a shift in how hiring professionals use cover letters, however. Traditionally, the cover letter was the cover page for your resume (hence the name), so its purpose was to convince the reader to look at your resume. Now, your resume usually (though not always) gets looked at first, and your cover letter is there to further persuade the reader to move you to the next round in the hiring process. So while cover letters are serving a different purpose now, they’re still being read and considered.
Unsurprisingly, everyone I heard from involved in hiring for jobs where writing, editing, and/or messaging is a key skill said they read and considered cover letters. For example, Glen Muñoz, who has been in marketing and operations for over 30 years, says that he reads all cover letters for candidates who meet the minimum requirements because the cover letter serves as a sample of their written communication skills, which are of course vital to whether or not you can do these jobs. Kaplan also said this was true in journalism.
Outside of these careers, cover letters are still widely read by the hiring professionals I heard from. Hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals across sales, finance, healthcare, accounting, customer service, and yes, even tech indicated that they read and considered at least some—if not all—candidates’ cover letters. “If I didn’t read [an applicant’s cover letter], there’s another reason that I’m not going to hire them,” says Karen Gordon, VP of Growth for Goodshuffle Pro , who hires for various roles including software developers. Those who said they read cover letters at all usually read them for all positions even if they’re hiring across different functions.
Employers also read cover letters across experience levels. “I have found the cover letter to be an important arsenal in a job seeker’s toolbox, even those seeking higher-up roles,” says Paul French, founder and managing director of Intrinsic Search , a recruiting firm specializing in executive positions for SaaS companies. At the other end of the spectrum, Kaplan says entry-level candidate’s cover letters are useful for hiring professionals to see how your education, part-time jobs, and other less traditional sources of experience connect to the job you’re applying for: “If you have less of a track record, you’re going to have a little more vamping,” and your cover letter is the place that it happens.
In my research, I noticed that the hiring professionals most likely to say that they skipped or skimmed cover letters to save time identified themselves as recruiters. Respondents also mentioned knowing other hiring professionals who did not read cover letters, most often recruiters. In its 2020 Recruiter Nation Report , based on a survey of 806 recruiters conducted by Zogby Analytics, Jobvite found that just 27% of recruiters consider cover letters when evaluating a job application.
And it makes sense. Often a recruiter’s primary job is to find and screen candidates for open positions, meaning they might be looking at hundreds of applications a day for a range of jobs. However, recruiters are usually not the only person seeing an application before a final hiring decision is made. They’re just the first step. So a recruiter not reading your cover letter doesn’t mean that someone else–like the hiring manager or a future member of your team—won’t. For example, tech recruiter and Muse career coach Steven Davis admits that he doesn’t read every cover letter as a recruiter, but as a coach, he still encourages his clients to “write a concise, enthusiastic cover letter” because he believes they’re valuable pieces of a job application that can help you land a later-round interview.
It’s important to note that while the 2020 Recruiter Nation report found that only 27% of recruiters considered cover letters in their decision, that’s up from 8% in 2017—a threefold increase in as many years. So the number of recruiters who read and consider cover letters is actually growing, not shrinking.
Do Cover Letters Help You Get a Job?
“For 80-90% of jobs I still believe in the cover letter,” Kaplan says. Cover letters help make the case for you as an applicant and can provide valuable information to recruiters and hiring managers, not only through their content but just through the fact that you took the time to write one at all.
In ResumeGo’s survey of recruiters and hiring managers, 65% of respondents said they are “materially influenced” by cover letters in their hiring decisions. ResumeGo also conducted a field experiment, submitting fake applications to over 7,000 job postings with either no cover letter (leaving the field blank or writing in “N/A” when needed), a generic cover letter, or a tailored cover letter that gave details on how the applicant matched the company culture and job description.
After 30 days, applications with tailored cover letters were 53% more likely to have gotten an interview callback than applications with no cover letter, and even generic cover letters were 17% better than no cover letter at all. Meaning, yes: Cover letters do still matter and they can help you get to the next round in the hiring process.
“One of the biggest takeaways was that tailored cover letters are far superior to generic cover letters when it comes to boosting a job applicant’s chances of being hired,” says Peter Yang, CEO of ResumeGo. Tailoring a cover letter doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch each time. You’re likely applying to a lot of similar jobs, so you might create a basic template for yourself, but add to it based on the job and company, Kaplan says. He estimates you can keep about two-thirds of your cover letter the same across most positions and customize the remaining third.
Read More: The Best Cover Letter Examples for Every Type of Job Seeker
When Do You Absolutely Need a Cover Letter?
There are some situations where you should definitely include a cover letter or you’ll greatly increase the risk of being rejected when you otherwise might’ve had a chance.
Many job applications require a cover letter and in those cases, if you want a real shot, you have to write one whether you want to or not, Kaplan says. You don’t want the first message you send a prospective employer to be that you can’t or won’t follow directions.
You might also have some other signal that a cover letter is crucial to a specific role. Before I applied to my current job at The Muse, I saw that my future manager had tweeted out the job listing. In the tweet, she said to include a cover letter; they’d be using it to gauge my writing skills and it was a chance to sell myself for the role. So of course I wrote one! In addition to social media, this signal could also come from conversations with current and former employees of the company, or the job description might stress the cover letter’s importance or ask you to include certain information in it, even if the online application doesn’t have a mandatory slot for it.
But job seekers don’t always get a giant flashing neon sign declaring that a cover letter is crucial for a particular position. In some cases, the cue that a cover letter is extra important will come from your side. If you have any special situations surrounding your candidacy or there’s anything on your resume or application that needs additional context to be understood, writing a cover letter is really in your best interest. If there’s something on (or not on) your resume that might be a red flag to people reading, your cover letter can keep your application out of the rejection pile.
According to the experts, some special situations that can be explained by a cover letter include:
- Career transitions : If this is going to be your first job in a new of type role or a different industry, or if you’ve followed a non-linear career path, a cover letter can explain why you want this job and how your past experiences have prepared you for it. It’s also an opportunity to highlight how your transferable skills will help you in your next job. For example, Kaplan once coached a “management consultant who wanted to become a fighter pilot.” She wrote a compelling story about her background, how she overcame obstacles in her past jobs, and how she would do that in the air.
- Employment gaps: Whether this will be your first job after your employment gap or you have one further back on your resume that you’re worried might raise eyebrows, including a cover letter gives you an opportunity to explain.
- Out-of-area applications: If you’re moving and hoping to secure a job before you get there, you can explain that in a cover letter so hiring managers understand why your application is coming from a different geographic location.
- Personal connections to a company or job referrals: If someone in your network referred you to a job or you have another connection to the company, this goes in your cover letter, not on your resume, Kaplan says.
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not to write a cover letter. In the ResumeGo survey, only 26% of respondents said they “punished” or “deducted points” from candidates who didn’t include a cover letter when the job posting didn’t require one, and in its 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study , Jobvite found that only 45% of respondents had submitted a cover letter for their current or most recent job. So you can definitely get a job without a cover letter. But ask yourself this: Why would you skip out on the chance to make your application even stronger?
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Home Cover Letter Help Are Cover Letters Necessary?
Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2023?
Cover letters are necessary for many jobseekers, and useful for everyone else. We explain when writing a cover letter is 100% necessary, the importance of cover letters to employers, and provide some cover letter resource links if you decide to write your own.
Yes, cover letters are necessary in 2023. A good cover letter can provide context for your application and set you apart from other candidates.
A recent Resume Genius survey found that the vast majority of hiring managers read cover letters , and that most of them think cover letters are an important factor in deciding which applicants to invite for an interview.
If you’re not sure if you need one, don’t worry. In this article, we’ll explain when to use cover letters and why they’re important , then provide you with some useful cover letter resources.
Do I need a cover letter?
Yes, you do need a cover letter in these common situations:
- The job description requests or requires a cover letter
- You have a referral for your cover letter
- The job requires strong writing and communication skills
Even if the job description says “cover letter optional”, it’s still important to write a great cover letter and attach it to your resume. Competition is fierce for the best positions, so why not give yourself the extra opportunity to impress an employer?
To find out how often hiring managers really read cover letters, the Resume Genius Research Department recently conducted a survey of 625 hiring managers. We found that 45% of respondents always read cover letters , while 38% usually read them.
How important is a cover letter when applying for work?
Cover letters (also known as letters of application ) are important if you’re serious about getting a specific job . If you take the time to write and submit a thoughtful cover letter, it improves your chances of hearing back from an employer.
According to our survey, 68% of hiring managers believe cover letters are important, compared to just 6% who say they aren’t.
If that’s not convincing enough for you, consider this: when asked how cover letters impact their hiring decisions, 82% responded that a strong cover letter can persuade them to invite an otherwise weak candidate for an interview.
In addition, 51% of hiring managers responded that a weak cover letter can deter them from inviting an otherwise strong candidate for an interview. So, it’s important to make sure that if you’re writing a cover letter, you’re writing it well.
Why are cover letters important?
The overwhelming majority of hiring managers think cover letters are important, and you should too. Here’s why:
1. Cover letters complement your resume
Your resume provides a concise, black-and-white look at your qualifications, background, and skills.
Your cover letter, on the other hand, adds a bit of color to your application — giving employers some insight into your personality and motivations.
For instance, if you list some professional accomplishments on your resume , you have room to elaborate on those accomplishments in your cover letter. Or you can take examples from your resume’s work experience section , and use your cover letter to describe how those experiences make you the best candidate for the job.
2. Cover letters allow you to describe how you’re a good fit for the position
The whole job application process is really all about one thing: showing employers you’re the best fit for the job.
While you can do this in your resume by showcasing your relevant experience, your cover letter provides the unique opportunity to elaborate on the why and the how. It’s your chance to pitch yourself as the ideal candidate.
Here are some great ways to convince employers you’re a great fit for the position with your cover letter:
- Show how your specific background makes you uniquely qualified for the position
- Describe how you’re a great culture fit
- Demonstrate your passion and interest in the work
- Explain how your past achievements demonstrate the skills needed in the role
- Illustrate how your professional goals align with the company goals
3. Cover letters showcase your communication skills
Written and verbal communication skills are important across most industries . Even if your background is in hard sciences or engineering, you still need to write reports, send emails, and communicate with colleagues.
While your resume is a great place to list your skills, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to actually showcase your writing and communication skills.
Cover letters are especially important in industries that require strong writing skills, like marketing, publishing, academia, or media. If you’re applying for a job in these industries, submitting a well-written cover letter can help you make a powerful first impression and give you an edge over other candidates.
4. Cover letters help you overcome a lack of experience
With 82% of hiring managers in our survey saying that well-written cover letters can convince them to interview candidates who otherwise lack relevant qualifications, this is perhaps the biggest reason to write a solid cover letter.
If you’re a recent graduate and your most impressive experience is relevant coursework , then submitting a cover letter is a good way to convince employers you have the skills and qualities they’re looking for in a candidate.
Companies value passionate, engaged employees, and understand that all of our professional journeys begin somewhere. Your cover letter is an opportunity to highlight your passion for a particular career or industry, and show how even without experience, you’re ready to learn and grow quickly in the role.
5. Cover letters can help you explain any unusual circumstances
Do you have a significant career gap on your resume or a history of job hopping? Is the address on your resume from a different state than where the company is located?
Your cover letter is the ideal place to clear up any potential questions employers have about your application.
Using your cover letter to explain these things upfront can help improve your chances of getting called for an interview and might spare you some awkward interview questions .
Frequently asked questions about cover letters
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about cover letters:
Do you have to write a cover letter for every job?
No, you do not have to write a cover letter for every job, but writing a cover letter can help increase your chances of getting hired.
If you’re really interested in a position, it’s best to write a cover letter unless instructed not to.
Tailoring your cover letter to each job makes it much more impactful than sending a generic letter. According to a ResumeGo survey , 78% of hiring professionals said it was easy to tell the difference between a generic and tailored cover letter, and 81% said they valued tailored letters much more.
Is a cover letter necessary for an online application?
A cover letter is not always necessary for an online application, but it can be a good way to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and provide additional information that’s not included in your resume.
If the job posting specifically asks for a cover letter, then it’s definitely necessary to include one. However, even if a cover letter is not explicitly required, including one can demonstrate your interest in the position and increase your chances of landing an interview.
Do I need a cover letter for a part-time job?
Yes, you need a cover letter for a part-time job if:
- It’s requested by the employer
- You have extra information to share (e.g. explaining an employment gap)
- You want to maximize your chances of landing an interview
Should your cover letter match your resume?
Your cover letter and resume should complement each other and have a consistent look and feel. The easiest way to do this is by using matching resume and cover letter templates . Using a matching cover letter will make your application professional and cohesive.
While it’s a good idea to make your cover letter and resume match, this doesn’t mean that they should be identical. Your cover letter is an opportunity to expand on the information provided in your resume and to personalize your application to the specific job and company.
Why do you write a cover letter?
You write a cover letter to:
- Complement your resume
- Illustrate how you’re a good fit for the position
- Showcase your communication skills
- Overcome a lack of experience
- Explain any unusual circumstances
Should your cover letter be attached to your resume?
Yes, it’s a good idea to attach your cover letter to your resume when applying for a job. This way, the hiring manager can easily access both documents and see how your qualifications and experiences align with the position.
When you’re submitting your application, you should attach your cover letter and resume as separate documents, usually in a PDF or Microsoft Word format. You should also choose a resume file name that will help the hiring manager easily identify and organize the files.
Additional cover letter resources
If you’re still unsure if a cover letter is necessary or not, then you should write a cover letter just to be safe. Here are our top resources and cover letter tips to ensure your cover letter improves your application:
Cover letter writing how-to guides
- How to write a cover letter
- How to address your cover letter
- How to start a cover letter
- How to end a cover letter
Cover letter formatting
- Cover letter format
- How long should a cover letter be
- Cover letter spacing
- Cover letter fonts
- Cover letter templates
- Basic cover letter templates
- Modern cover letter templates
- Google docs cover letter templates
- Cover letter examples
- General cover letter
- Career change cover letter
- Cover letter for internal position
- Relocation cover letter
- Best cover letters
Written by Corissa Peterson
Corissa is a Career Advisor and Staff Writer at Resume Genius, where she loves equipping others with the tools they need to pursue their dreams. She graduated from the... more
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Job Seeking 101: Are Cover Letters Still Necessary?
- December 12, 2022
“Are cover letters still necessary?” is a question many people ask themselves when looking for a job. Nowadays, there is much debate regarding the importance of cover letters. While some contend they are still relevant, others disagree. So, to give a definitive answer, Skillfuel experts weighed in on the matter.
In this article, we’ll discuss whether cover letters are still necessary in 2022 onwards. We’ll also review some frequently asked questions about cover letters, such as when to submit one and the best practices for writing an effective cover letter.
What are cover letters?
Cover letters are one-page documents that are sent in during the hiring process. These are often attached to résumés and curriculum vitae as supporting documents. They are also known as application letters and motivation letters. Your cover letter should elaborate on why you are the most qualified candidate for the position and why you are interested in working for the specific organization. A cover letter’s content should be genuine rather than hypothetical or overly generic.
The primary purpose of a cover letter is to strengthen your job application. When a hundred people are applying for the same job, most recruiters can decide who to hire based on the cover letter. That’s why a cover letter is an excellent opportunity to highlight your experience, skills, and the value you can bring to a company beyond what is included in your resume.
Do recruiters read cover letters?
The short answer is yes. Most recruiters and hiring managers read cover letters. In fact, 78% of recruiters prefer applicants who include cover letters in their application for the following reasons:
- It demonstrates a candidate’s motivation to acquire the position.
- It gives additional information about the applicant.
- It shows the candidates’ personalities.
Hiring managers learn more about applicants when they read their cover letters. It provides them with more information to screen candidates for a specific position. Furthermore, recruiters will have a better idea of what the candidate is capable of. This will enable them to tailor the interview questions to a specific candidate. There are also instances where recruiters instantly reject applicants without a cover letter. Because of this, it’s imperative to prepare cover letters whenever possible.
When do I need a cover letter?
Do you need a cover letter when applying online? Although cover letters are still relevant, the advancement of technology has made them optional. Because of improved online recruitment , application systems have made it possible to learn everything about the candidate based on what they answer in the form. However, there are still instances when you need to include a cover letter along with your resume. Here are some of them:
When a job application instructs you to include a cover letter
When a job application tells you to send a cover letter, you should send one. It’s a red flag for recruitment if you never send one in when the instructions say to do so. Recruiters who read cover letters will feel you’re not keen on following instructions, lowering your chances of getting hired. To ensure this doesn’t happen, read the job application thoroughly.
If the hiring manager or recruiter requests a cover letter
Another instance when you’ll need a cover letter is when the recruiter asks for one. Sometimes the job application doesn’t say if you need to send a cover letter, but the recruiter will ask you to submit one after the interview. If this happens, make sure to send them one. This may mean the hiring manager needs more information about you before you can proceed to the next step of the hiring process.
When should I not include a cover letter?
Yes, cover letters are still necessary, but there are instances where you shouldn’t include one. Here are some of them:
When the job application explicitly states not to submit one
The recruitment process starts with applying. Now, if the job application says you don’t need to send a cover letter, do what it says. That’s because some recruiters don’t read cover letters, so they don’t require them.
This is another matter of following instructions. You’ll have a higher chance of getting the first interview when you follow everything the job application requires. If you think a cover letter will really help you, polish your resume to include what you want to say in your cover letter.
When there’s no place to upload a cover letter in the application form
Most candidate scheduling software and other online application systems will ask you to upload a résumé but not a cover letter. This is because some of these are already programmed to ask specific questions you want to address in your cover letter. So, if you only see one button for submitting a file, make sure you submit your résumé rather than your motivation letter.
When you don’t have time to customize cover letters
One common recruitment problem is when recruiters read generalized cover letters. Yes, cover letters are necessary, but you don’t have to force yourself to submit one, especially when it’s not a requirement. It is preferable not to receive a cover letter for hiring managers and recruiters than to obtain one that’s poorly written. A poor cover letter is generic and based on a template you intend to send to all the jobs you’re applying for. So, if you don’t have time to create customized cover letters, don’t write one.
How can I write an effective cover letter?
Now that we’ve established that cover letters are still important, here are some tips for writing them well:
Most cover letters are one-page long. As a general rule of thumb, a cover letter should be between 250 and 400 words.
Pay close attention to the submission guidelines
Carefully read the job description of any job you’re applying for. Look out for any specifics, such as the cover letter format. The file type (Word or PDF), fonts, margins, and content are all factors to consider. Also, some job postings already outline what you should write in the content. If you see one, follow the outline so recruiters can easily read your cover letter.
Check for spelling and grammar errors before sending in your resume and cover letter
When you’re finished writing, proofread your cover letter for typos and grammatical errors. Recruiters will only read your cover letter thoroughly if they don’t see grammatical issues. Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, and Quillbot are just a few spell checkers you can use to ensure your writing is error-free.
Don’t beat around the bush
Just saying you’re good at communicating and contributing to teams won’t cut it. Seek instead to substantiate this assertion with examples from your own experience. For example, instead of saying, “I am a great writer”, follow it up by citing your writing experiences. The statement can then be, “I have led the newsletter campaign for our company and written over 60 articles for various clients, demonstrating that I am a very competent writer”.
Develop your branding
Your resume and cover letter should have consistent formatting features such as fonts, margins, colors, and style. This will help you stand out to the hiring manager by emphasizing your unique brand.
Take Your Cover Letters to the Next Level
It’s clear that cover letters are still necessary in 2022 onwards. Knowing how to write a cover letter is still important, even if some recruiters do not require them. Remember, the first steps in job seeking start with preparing your cover letter and résumé. The cover letter is an additional chance to sell yourself by providing more detail than is possible in your resume. Even if you decide to write a brief, straightforward one, a strong cover letter may help you get the job.
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- Cover Letters
Do You Need a Cover Letter When It's Not Required?
When you do (and don't) need a cover letter to apply for a job.
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
Why Write a Cover Letter?
Reasons to include a cover letter, reasons not to include a cover letter.
- Tips for Writing a Cover Letter
Do you really need a cover letter if a company doesn't ask for one? Writing a lot of cover letters during a job search is often both challenging and time-consuming. Because of this, it's not surprising that applicants often hesitate to include a cover letter when it is not explicitly required by an employer.
If you're wondering if you should include a cover letter, the short answer is yes. That said, there are a few exceptions.
You should almost always submit a cover letter , even if the company doesn't ask for one.
Here's what you need to know about the value of cover letters, along with the situations where you can skip a cover letter.
If you're serious about landing the job, a well-written cover letter gives you a chance to sell yourself to the employer in a narrative format, and explain why you are an ideal candidate. Taking the time to match your qualifications to the job can help you get selected for an interview.
All of your efforts in the cover letter will help hiring managers do their job of screening applicants, and may get your resume a closer look.
A cover letter also affords you the opportunity to highlight your strongest qualifications.
An effective, well-written, and customized cover letter also makes it clear that you are highly interested in the job. That's because it shows the hiring manager that you want the job enough to go the extra distance.
To Share Extra Information
A cover letter gives you an opportunity to include details that your resume does not contain. For example, if you are applying from a distance, your cover letter will enable you to present a rationale for relocation and to mention that you will be in the area shortly for a possible interview.
To Explain a Gap
Gaps in employment with reasonable explanations can also be addressed in your letter. A cover letter is also an ideal place to provide specific examples that prove you have the skills and experience listed on your resume.
The Employer May Expect One
Additionally, some employers expect to receive cover letters even though they did not stipulate that a cover letter was required in their job advertisements.
Candidates who don't take the time to compose a letter are often viewed as less motivated for the job.
In many cases, employers won't even look at a job application that doesn't contain a cover letter or letter of interest.
For some jobs, you won't need a cover letter to apply. Some employers don't accept cover letters as part of the application process. For other positions, there may be no way to submit one. If a cover letter is optional, it's better to skip it if you don't have the time to compose a well-written one.
When the Employer Doesn't Want One
If the job application instructs that you should not include a cover letter, then it's definitely best to follow directions so as not to annoy your potential employer.
When You Don't Have Time
No letter is much better than a poorly written one. A well-composed cover letter serves as a sample of your writing ability, but the opposite is also true. If you don't have time to write a well-crafted cover letter that pitches your skills and positions you for the job, forego the effort.
When There's No Way to Submit One
Also, if the company asks you to submit your application through an online platform, and there is no place for you to submit a cover letter, don't worry about it.
Tips for Writing a Cover Letter That Will Impress
When you do include a cover letter with your resume, it's important to make it a good one. Here are tips for writing a cover letter that will make the best impression and add value to your application.
Kelly Miller. / The Balance
- Make it targeted. Be sure to compose a targeted letter that is written with the job listing in mind. Focus on the skills and abilities you possess that make you a strong fit for the specific job.
- Keep it short. Make sure that your letters are concise (no more than one page topping out at five paragraphs) and that every statement you make conveys something significant about your qualifications for the candidacy.
- Go beyond your resume. Avoid simply repeating your resume. Provide examples not listed in your resume, and expand upon things mentioned only briefly in your resume. Your cover letter should have a distinct purpose regarding your application.
- Edit, edit, edit. Errors in your cover letter can hurt your chances of getting an interview. Errors make you look sloppy, or worse, not educated. Be sure to thoroughly read your letter before submitting it. Consider asking a friend or colleague to read it as well to check for typos, grammatical errors, and confusing language.
- Writing a cover letter makes the hiring manager's job easier, by highlighting exactly why you're the right match for the role. That gives your application an edge.
- Even if the company doesn't specifically request a cover letter, it's a good idea to write one if you're interested in the role at hand.
- Skip a cover letter if the employer says not to write one, or if there isn't a place to include one in an online application form.
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- Cover Letter
Do I Need a Cover Letter? Are Cover Letters Necessary in 2023
As seen in:
Are cover letters necessary? Do I need a cover letter? You send out dozens of applications to land a job interview. You spend hours tweaking your resume and looking for opportunities.
If a cover letter is a waste of time, why bother. It’s 2023. Does anyone even read cover letters anymore, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. No worries, though.
This article will answer your questions about cover letters:
- Are cover letters always required and do they even matter?
- Do companies and employers read such letters?
- Do you have to write a cover letter?
- A tried and tested way to write cover letters in case you need one.
Want to write your cover letter fast? Use our cover letter builder. Choose from 20+ professional cover letter templates that match your resume. See actionable examples and get expert tips along the way.
Create your cover letter now
Sample cover letter for a resume— See more cover letter samples and create your cover letter here .
Sold on the idea of writing a cover letter? Get it right with help from:
- How to Write a Cover Letter for a Job
- Entry Level Cover Letter
- Internship Cover Letter
- Cover Letter With Salary Requirements
- Cover Letter for Promotion
- Google Docs Cover Letter Template
- Free Cover Letter Template Word
- Modern Cover Letter Template
Looking for specific examples? See:
- IT Cover Letter
- Social Media Manager Cover Letter
- Retail Cover Letter
- Acting Cover Letter
- Data Analyst Cover Letter
- Digital Marketing Cover Letter
- Cover Letter for Manager Position
- Nursing Cover Letter
- Cover Letter Examples for All Professions
Cover Letter or Not?
When is a cover letter necessary.
Do you need a cover letter? A cover letter is important and required if the job offer requires a cover letter, the employer, hiring manager, or recruiter requests one, you’re applying directly to a person and know their name, or someone has referred you for the position.
So if you're wondering whether you should include a cover letter, the answer is yes in most cases. You should include a cover letter even if it isn't required. There are only a few exceptions.
For example, you might not need a cover letter if you’re applying online. Some applicant tracking systems don’t allow candidates to submit them. If that’s the case, you don’t have worry about. In all other cases? You better!
How important is a cover letter ?
A cover letter is important as about 26% of recruiters read cover letters and consider them critical in their decision to hire. Another study on employer preference suggests that 56% want applicants to attach a cover letter to the resume. A CareerBuilder study found that 49% of HR managers consider a covering letter the second best thing to give your resume a boost (number one being customizing your resume .)
What does that mean for you?
Let’s say that most recruiters don’t read cover letters. But at the same time, half do expect to get one.
Think about it this way: Even if recruiters don’t read cover letters, they might want to pass them to the hiring manager or employer. If the company is small, employers read cover letters to vet their candidates. The fewer the applications, the easier it is to focus on each candidate.
Plus, companies receive hundreds of resumes for most openings. To get the job done, they might reject resumes that are too long or are missing a cover letter.
When not to include a cover letter?
Short answer: when the job posting explicitly states you cannot submit a cover letter.
Plus, no cover letter is better than a bad cover letter. (But we will show you how to write a short but perfect letter in a moment.)
Do I need a cover letter for a resume?
You might need a cover letter: writing one is an extra hoop you choose to jump through, sure, but that’s the point. See, an optional cover letter is not optional if you’re serious about the job. Full-time, part-time or an internship— 53% of employers think a resume is not enough. Only 47% of job seekers write cover letters. Don’t join this crowd.
So, yes, you have to write a cover letter for your resume. Especially, if you need to explain employment gaps or if you’re changing careers.
Read on to find out how to make your cover letter a game-changer.
Here’s what a cover letter should look like —
Jane Smith 123 Magnolia Street Flowerville, Minnesota 78954 213-444-8576 [email protected]
February 10, 2018
Mr. John Smith CEO Bloomingfields Marketing 4587 Iris Street Flowerville, Minnesota 78954
Dear Mr. Smith,
I am writing to you out of interest for the position of Marketing Manager that I was told about by Penny Armstrong.
I can offer you the skills and experience I’ve gained from three years as a Marketing Manager at Blue Skies Marketing Solutions.
My experience with brand management, interdepartmental marketing initiatives, and video marketing techniques should make me ideal for the position. I will also bring to the table my experience managing a team of up to twenty people across different countries.
I understand that your new Marketing Manager is in charge of bringing Bloomingfields Marketing up to speed with the digital era. I would love to discuss with you how video marketing and brand management would play into this strategy.
Please find my resume attached if you’d like more details. I look forward to speaking with you during an interview. Please feel free to contact me at 213-444-8576 anytime during the day. Otherwise, I will be in touch after a week. Thank you once again for your time and consideration.
Why is a cover letter necessary?
- It Introduces Jane to the hiring manager via Penny.
- It illustrates how Jane will add value to the company.
- It suggests that Jane has solutions for the company.
- It contains Jane’s contact information and availability.
Jane’s cover letter includes everything a recruiter will want:
Pro Tip: What if there is no official opening? You will want to send a smart letter of interest that includes different content. You will need to provide a reason for applying to a company with no openings. So, personalization and knowledge of the company are more important in this situation.
Here’s How to Take Your Cover Letter to the Next Level
So, should you write a cover letter? Yes. What can you do to take yours to the next level?
It’s all written in the job offer. (Unless someone referred you or you know the hiring manager—then you have an insider’s perspective—so go with that.)
It’s pretty simple. You’ll start by referring to your most recent, relevant experience in your first line.
Where + Title + How Long
Next, highlight a few skills , achievements , or projects . Choose things that will illustrate how you will be a valuable hire. Tailor your answers to the company, individual, and job offer.
Finally, include a third paragraph that ties up everything. Use it to explain how your experience and skills will translate to success in the new role.
Pro Tip: The worst thing that you can do with your cover letter is to repeat your resume. Cover letters say something more than what can be found on the resume.
Here’s How to Layout a Professional Cover Letter
The cover letter format is the same as it is for most business letters.
Here’s an example of a professional cover letter layout from our cover letter builder:
Sample cover letter created using Zety. Pick a template and write your cover letter here .
To start, align your text to the left and add:
- Your Contact Information
- The Employer’s Contact Information
Next, add a cover letter greeting .
Address the cover letter to a specific person in the organization. This will add a personal touch and make your cover letter look less generic . If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name on the job offer, call the company to find out. This is all the more important when sending your cover letter via email .
If all else fails, write: Dear Hiring Manager .
Follow the greeting with:
- The Introduction
- The Hook (2–3 paragraphs)
- The Conclusion
Your introduction should include a personable introduction to yourself. Also, mention the position for which you’re applying.
Remember to make the introduction personable and interesting. Start with something that will spark the interest of the hiring manager. Make sure you don't tell your whole life story: a cover letter should be no longer than 500 words .
Got stuck as soon as you typed Dear John ? This guide will help you: How to Start a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [20+ Examples]
As for the conclusion, consider including:
- A Call to Action—Interview me!
- Contact Information
- Reference to Resume
Finish your cover letter with a closing salutation and your name.
Sincerely, Jane Smith
Pro Tip: For business and cover letters, there are several appropriate closing salutations. You can use “Sincerely,” “Regards,” “Yours Truly,” and “Yours Sincerely.” It’s up to you.
By the way, there is a secret weapon that works wonders when ending a cover letter. Most employers will stop and think, Ah, interesting! —even if they don’t read the whole thing. Learn how to seal the deal from this guide: How to End a Cover Letter: Sample & Complete Guide [+20 Examples]
Now, about your important cover letter—
You’re almost done. However, there’s one thing even candidates with eye-candy resumes get wrong.
It’s their cover letter template .
How so? They usually just write their cover letter in MS Word and call it a day.
But, just look at this matching cover letter and resume set. Notice how professional and balanced it looks.
Now that’s a polished application—
Matching cover letter and resume set. Pick a template and write your cover letter here .
Ready for that new dream job?
Yes, many recruiters don’t read cover letters. But i t’s always important to include a cover letter with your application and use it to explain things your resume might miss. Even if you choose to write a short, simple one, a well-written cover letter can be the thing that lands you the job.
Don’t miss out. Give the hiring manager what they need. Send that cover letter!
Have you ever impressed the employer with your letter so much they simply had to meet you? Tell us your story in the comments. We would love to learn what you think!
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35+ Successful Cover Letter Tips & Advice (With Examples)
Cover letter writing tips—sure to turn any boring letter into something employers want to read.
How to Email a Cover Letter: Samples, Format & Subject Line
Applying for a job via email? You need a perfect email cover letter (No, copy-pasting your regular cover letter will NOT do.) Check out this guide to see an email cover letter sample that gets jobs. Plus, you’ll get an email cover letter template you can adjust and use, tons of expert advice, and actionable cover letter tips.
What Is a Cover Letter for a Job? Definition, Purpose, Meaning
Everyone has heard of one, but what is a cover letter for a job and what does it do? Here’s a simple explanation plus a full toolbox of cover letter advice.
Is a Cover Letter Necessary in 2023? Do I Need a Cover Letter?
Are cover letters still necessary in today’s job search , how important is a cover letter, is a cover letter always required, should you send a cover letter if it’s optional, why is a cover letter so important, do you need a cover letter, do employers and recruiters read cover letters, do candidates send cover letters, in what form should you send a cover letter, cover letter or resume—what gets read first, methodology and limitations, was it interesting here are similar articles.
What to Include in a Cover Letter: Examples of Things to Put
How to Format a Cover Letter: Examples & Tips for 2023
33+ Cover Letter Tips and Advice to Stand Out in 2023
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Is A Cover Letter Necessary? Yes, But Not Always. Here’s When To Use One
Table of contents.
- Do You Need a Cover Letter for an Internship?
- Do You Need a Cover Letter for a Part-Time Job?
- Is It Unprofessional Not To Have a Cover Letter?
- Can a Cover Letter Hurt Your Chances?
- Gives the Hiring Manager Details About Your Value
- Helps You Explain Any Issues With Your Resume
- Gives You the Chance To Explain Why You Want the Job
- Increases Your Chances of an Interview
- Helps the Hiring Manager See How Your Personality Would Fit in With the Team
- When the Employer Instructs You Not To
- When It Isn’t Requested and You Have Poor Writing Skills
- When There Is No Way To Submit It
- Do I need a cover letter when applying online?
- Do HR recruiters read cover letters?
- Wrapping Up
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, a cover letter is just as helpful in online applications as in in-person ones.
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!
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When Are Cover Letters Necessary (With Examples)
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When Not to Send a Cover Letter
Why write a cover letter, is a cover letter necessary to get a job, submitting a cover letter and resume, parts of a cover letter (with examples), importance of a cover letter faq.
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Summary. Cover letters can be necessary and important to clarify a confusing resume, fill in employment gaps, and to add information that doesn’t fit in your resume. You should avoid sending a cover letter if the employer doesn’t want it or you are not tailoring it to each specific job. Job trends have changed over the past few years with working from home becoming common, large amounts of people unemployed due to covid-19, and companies overwhelmed with applicants. Your biggest concern is making a great impression and getting the job. The first question you need answered — are cover letters necessary? A recent study found that employers place a significant amount of importance on cover letters. If you feel like you’re suddenly being asked to perform for an empty auditorium — you’re right. Employers want you to submit a cover letter but they’re never going to read it — probably. Add that little tidbit of data to your desire not to write a cover letter and your belief that they do little to advance your application and you come up even more confused than before. We’re going to help you understand why and when cover letters are important so you can make an informed decision based on your particular situation. Key Takeaways: Showing the effort to add a cover letter, even when they aren’t required, shows that you’re willing to put in extra work and that can push you over the top and make you stand out. Make sure to check the employer’s application requirements on whether or not to include a cover letter and if they don’t specify, err on the side of adding one anyway. Submitting a poorly written or uninformative cover letter won’t help you chances of getting a job it’ll make you look unprofessional. Cover letters serve to introduce you to the company in a way that resumes can’t so it’s important to include reasons why you want the job, about accomplishments that are hard to put in a resume. A cover letter is a great place explain any oddities in your resume, such as employment gaps and special projects When a Cover Letter Is Important
Can you determine if a cover letter is needed or not?
Obviously, not all jobs are the same, so their requirements probably aren’t the same. This is an absolutely correct assumption. The problem is there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules about what industries require a cover letter. Let’s first look at when a cover letter is important.
To clarify a confusing resume. If you have something in your resume that needs clarification, a cover letter is where you get your chance to do that.
Fill in or explain gaps in employment history. If you have a gap in your employment history , you can explain it in your cover letter.
Show willingness to relocate. If you live in a different region but are willing to relocate, that’s also important information.
Bolster your credentials if your new to the field. If you’re an entry-level worker , a cover letter can showcase your non-professional, related experience and convey your enthusiasm.
Showcase key skills. If you have specific skills or experience that relates directly to the position, highlight it in a cover letter.
Personal connection. If you have a connection to the company that’s hiring, your cover letter is a good place to point it out.
If you’re applying for a higher-level position. If you’re applying for a job in mid-management or above, you should always include a cover letter as part of the formal process.
The employer may request it. If the employer asks for a cover letter, even if you don’t feel it’s necessary, you need to include one with your job application.
To add information doesn’t fit in your resume. If you feel you have something relevant to say that’s not covered in your resume, then a cover letter lets you do that.
Okay, we just told you that having a cover letter is all but imperative, but what about when it’s not? There are definitely some situations where a cover letter isn’t required and then some situations when it will do you more harm than good. The following times are when it’s probably best not to send a cover letter:
When the employer doesn’t want one. Whether they tell you not to write one in the job description or they have software that doesn’t allow for one — these people don’t want to see a cover letter. Note: if it says cover letter optional, you should write one.
Your cover letter is full of errors. If your cover letter is full of mistakes and makes you look like a bad job candidate. A cover letter needs to be proofread and edited by someone who is good with language and grammar. If that’s not your strong suit, then you need to find some help or skip the cover letter.
You’re not customizing each cover letter. If you’re using a generic, non-customized, cover letter template that doesn’t add any value to your application, you can go ahead and skip it altogether.
A cover letter is your introduction to the company. It’s a handshake and a hello on paper. Even if only half of all employers read cover letters, and even if they’re just skimming them, this is still your chance to shine and to highlight your achievements, special skills , and experience.
It may be a formality and, for many, it’s not a fun part of their job search , but it can be the one thing that makes you stand out as a professional, gets you noticed, and creates a good impression.
Some percentage of hiring managers and recruiters do find cover letters valuable. A good cover letter showcases how you intend to add value to the company, suggests solutions for the role, and contains pertinent information about how to contact you and your availability.
Just think of it this way: if a hiring manager is on the fence about deciding between which candidate to call in for an interview, a stellar cover letter could be just the thing to help you pull ahead.
A cover letter is probably not necessary to get a job in most situations, but there’s always a chance that it might be, meaning there’s no harm in sending one. Your resume should give the employer the basics of your experience and they can do the math to determine if your skills line up with their opening.
Add to that the fact that most employers don’t do more than peruse a cover letter, at best. It seems like a cover letter is a thing of the past, but it’s not.
Unless the job posting specifically states that a cover letter isn’t necessary or you’re completing an online application and there’s no spot for a cover letter, then you should consider it necessary.
It’s all about showing a prospective employer that you know how to follow the rules and you’re willing to do what’s asked of you. When you think about it, just that reason alone is enough to include a cover letter.
Going further than job etiquette, if you land one of those employers who actually read cover letters, you definitely want to use it to your advantage. In today’s job market, with competition running hot, you want to use everything you can to be a desirable candidate.
You not only want to include a cover letter but you want to fill it with everything that the employer wants to hear. You need to research cover letter tips so you can craft the best cover letter that employer has ever seen.
You want to see that letter framed and hanging on their wall when you go in for a job interview — well, not really of course, but that’s the mindset you should have when you’re writing it.
All this talk about cover letters, it seems like we’re forgetting about the resume. Don’t worry, we’re not.
Writing a great resume that gets you hired is such an important task that it’s a topic for another article. Just know that if you’re submitting a cover letter, you definitely need to include a resume because that’s something that’s not only going to get read, but also resonate with future employers.
Now that we’ve stressed the importance of a cover letter, you’ve got a task ahead of you — to write a knock-their-socks-off cover letter that gets you hired. Make sure all of the standard parts of a cover letter are present:
The header. Include all of the contact information for yourself and the employer. Also, include the current date between the two sets of addresses.
Bill Billson 22 Happy Court Marigold, TX, 10987 April 26, 2021 Alice Allison New Company 5225 East Park Ln. Austin, TX , 73301
The greeting. Always do your best to find the hiring manager’s name . Check the job posting, the company website, and the company’s LinkedIn page . If you strike out online, simply call the company and ask who you should address your cover letter to for whatever position you’re applying for.
Never use “Mrs.” as it is difficult to determine the marital status of the hiring manager . Stick with Ms./Mr./Dr. (or any other professional title) followed by the person’s last name. If their name is gender-neutral, play it safe and use their full name.
If you can’t find the hiring manager’s name, you can use “Dear Hiring Manager” or one of its alternatives . Never use “ Dear Sir or Madam ” or “ To Whom It May Concern ” — it’s not 1921 and the recruiter will assume you’ve copy/pasted the same cover letter all over town.
Dear Ms. Bickerly, Dear Pat Thompson, Dear Software Engineering Hiring Team,
Opening paragraph . Start by indicating the role you’re applying for and then grabbing the reader’s attention with an impressive and relevant accomplishment. You want to come across as enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and competent right off the bat.
When I saw a job posting for a Marketing Manager at ABC Inc., I knew I had to apply. I’ve long been a fan of ABC’s methodology of direct email campaigns alongside social media outreach and organic content marketing, and my 6+ years in Marketing have made me adept at each of these facets of an effective marketing strategy.
The body. Your cover letter’s body paragraph(s) should accomplish two things: explain why you’re a perfect candidate with all the right qualifications and experiences and explain why you’re attracted to this particular company. The first part is all about using the same important keywords from the job description.
The second part might involve a bit of research and creativity to determine the company’s values and show how they align with your own.
I have a special passion for content marketing that achieves big results. By strategizing a 6-month campaign that saw over 400 pieces of high-quality content produced, I got to watch XYZ’s organic traffic skyrocket by 569%. Even better, by streamlining our funnel with the sales and product teams, we were able to drive revenue by 36% YoY. My passion is helping customer’s find answers to questions, which is why your brand statement “Quality Solutions the First Time” really resonates with me.
Closing . Now all you have to do is close your cover letter with a reiteration of your excitement for the role and an invitation for follow-up steps. A call-to-action is the usual way to wrap things up; in practice, this simply looks like:
I look forward to discussing ABC’s marketing goals and helping achieve those goals. Thank you for considering me for the role.
Signature. If you’re sending a physical letter, add 4 spaces between your sign-off and your printed name. Then, put the signature between the two. If you’re emailing your cover letter, you can use an email signature or simply include your contact information after your typed name.
We recommend sticking with a classic like:
Sincerely, Best Regards, Thank you for your consideration,
When writing your cover letter, pay particular attention to the open because that’s where you’re going to get their attention and, hopefully, encourage them to keep reading. Then customize the letter so you really explain why you’re the perfect fit, brag a little if you can.
Finally, create a cover letter close that’s friendly and personal. Try not to concern yourself with wondering if they’ll read it or not, assume they will and do the best job you can.
How important is a cover letter?
A cover letter is very important. Including a cover letter with your resume will give hiring managers a complete picture of what you’d bring to the company than your resume can often provide. It will also often answer questions and alleviate concerns they may have after they read your resume.
If you have a gap in your work history, it’s difficult to communicate the reasons for that gap through your resume alone. In addition, it’s nearly impossible to share your enthusiasm for the job through resume bullet points, and employers want to see your passion for the position.
You can, however, include all of this information and more in your cover letter. Writing one lets you flesh out your resume and let your personality shine through, which can be an advantage when you’re competing for a job opening.
What happens if you don’t include a cover letter?
If you don’t include a cover letter, you risk getting passed up for another candidate who did. If you don’t include a cover letter for a company that specifically asked for one, your application will likely be thrown out immediately. (For the same reason, if the company specifically tells you not to include one, don’t include one.)
If the company doesn’t tell you what to do one way or another and you don’t write a cover letter, you risk losing your competitive edge.
Hiring managers have to narrow down the list of candidates one way or another. Suppose you and another candidate are similarly qualified, but they wrote a cover letter, and you didn’t. You’re generally more likely to be the one who gets eliminated.
This is because writing a cover letter when you weren’t asked shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile to do a job well, it helps hiring managers see that you’re passionate about the position, and it showcases your communication skills.
Not only that, but if hiring managers have a question or hesitation about your resume, your cover letter can often answer this for them, keeping you in the running.
Leaving out this extra communication channel lowers your chances of moving forward in the hiring process, especially if another candidate did write a cover letter that silences hiring managers’ concerns.
Should I include a cover letter if they don’t ask for one?
Yes, you should include a cover letter if they don’t ask for one. A cover letter allows employers to see your personality and passion for the job, and it allows you to truly sell yourself as a candidate.
You can do this by explaining why you’re interested in this particular position and how you and your skills would help further the organization.
This is important because if hiring managers are on the fence about offering you an interview based on your qualifications alone, your cover letter might be the piece that pushes your application over the edge to get to move forward to the next step in the hiring process.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Don’t include a cover letter if:
You can’t ensure it will be professionally written without typos or grammatical errors.
You’re going to use a template cover letter.
There isn’t a place on the online application to submit a cover letter.
Submitting a badly written or impersonal cover letter can do more harm than good, so if you can’t spend the time required to tailor it to the job or to have someone help you proofread it, it’s usually better to skip it entirely.
Do cover letters really make a difference?
Yes, cover letters really make a difference. When you apply for a job, hiring managers are looking for reasons to either move your application forward in the hiring process or to eliminate you as a candidate, and your resume, answers to application questions, and cover letter provide the only information they have on which to base this decision.
A cover letter can play a variety of roles in your efforts to sell yourself as a candidate, including:
Explaining any gaps in employment.
Highlighting your soft skills if you’re new to the industry and don’t have much relevant experience.
Demonstrating your personality to make a personal connection.
Showing how your skills and experience relate to the position.
Sharing why you want this particular position and what you would add to the company if hired.
It isn’t necessarily a given that you won’t get a job without a cover letter and will get the job with one, but if you don’t include one, you’ll certainly miss out on all of the benefits that a cover letter can give you.
To further understand the difference a cover letter can make, put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. You have a stack of similar resumes that needs to shrink.
Wouldn’t you be more likely to keep a candidate in the running if you could get a glimpse of their personality and passion for the job than someone with a similar list of accomplishments who didn’t provide that information?
What do employers look for in a cover letter?
Employers look for conciseness, professionalism, and personality in a cover letter. The technical details will change based on the job and requirements, but these three elements carry through no matter what content you put in your cover letter.
Hiring managers don’t have time to read through multiple pages of fluff about your every accomplishment and professional goal, and some don’t even read one full page. They want you to get to the point about what you’re trying to say, so make sure your letter is lean and to the point.
As you write, there is no need to be overly stuffy, but you should add a little more polish than you would to an email you’d write to a coworker.
Follow formatting guidelines for formal letters by including the recipient’s name and address as well as your own. Maintain a polite tone of voice and proofread your letter, getting someone else to check over it for you if possible.
Within the parameters of professionalism, though, you should let your personality shine through.
Hiring managers want to see what you’re passionate about in your work and why they should choose you for the position, so make sure you share how your values and skills line up with the organization’s and how you’d use them to help further the company.
Columbia University Center for Career Education – How and Why to Write a Great Cover Letter
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Kristin Kizer is an award-winning writer, television and documentary producer, and content specialist who has worked on a wide variety of written, broadcast, and electronic publications. A former writer/producer for The Discovery Channel, she is now a freelance writer and delighted to be sharing her talents and time with the wonderful Zippia audience.
Matt Warzel a President of a resume writing firm (MJW Careers, LLC) with 15+ years of recruitment, outplacement, career coaching and resume writing experience. Matt is also a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Certified Internet Recruiter (CIR) with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Marketing Focus) from John Carroll University.
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Topics: Cover Letter , Special Sections
Ask Amanda: Do I Really Need a Cover Letter?
Have cover letters become a thing of the past?
Q: Should I write a cover letter for every job application I submit?
I haven't searched for a job in a while. Is a cover letter still necessary or have things changed? — Hal B.
If you're wondering whether you still need a cover letter for your job search, you're not alone. Many of you have reached out to me over the years asking this specific cover-letter question. And it makes sense — if you've asked colleagues or peers whether you should write a cover letter, I'll bet good money you've received some conflicting advice.
That's because the data on this topic sends some pretty mixed messages. For instance, according to the 2016 Recruiter Nation Report by recruitment software provider Jobvite , 74 percent of recruiters do not consider cover letters important in their decision to hire an applicant. However, a poll from recruitment firm Robert Half found that 90 percent of executives consider cover letters to be invaluable when assessing candidates.
So what does that mean for you? Well here's my take …
You still need to write a cover letter!
While it's true that not every hiring manager or recruiter will read your cover letter — in fact, the last time I informally polled employers on the topic, many of the respondents admitted to regularly skipping over this document and jumping straight to the resume — there is still a portion of employers who consider the cover letter to be important. When you're applying for a job, there's no way of knowing for sure which side of the fence that employer falls on. Better safe than sorry, right? This is why many of our resume-writing services include a cover letter as part of the package.
A cover letter is also a great way to give employers a glimpse of your personality or to add some additional context to your application when you're changing careers or searching for work after a substantial employment gap.
Of course, not all cover letters are created equal. A poorly written cover letter can hurt — rather than help — your candidacy. Check out the following resources for tips on how to craft a winning cover letter for every job application:
How to Address a Cover Letter
How to Break Down Your Cover Letter Into 3 Simple Sections
How to Tailor Your Cover Letter for Each Job Application
Exceptions to the cover-letter rule
There are some exceptions to this rule. If the job listing specifically states that a cover letter isn't necessary or required, you shouldn't feel compelled to write one. In fact, blatantly ignoring the instructions found within the job listing is a surefire way to get your application discarded.
The next time you find yourself asking, “Do I need a cover letter?”, assume the answer is yes and start thinking about what information you can incorporate into your cover letter to set your application apart.
Amanda Augustine is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW) and the resident career expert for Talent Inc.'s suite of brands: TopResume , TopCV , and TopInterview . On a regular basis, she answers user questions like the one above. Have a question? Take a look at her career advice or ask a question on her Quora page .
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Are Cover Letters Necessary? Do You Need One in 2023?
Cover letters are one of the most important parts of the job application process. It’s a way for you to explain why you’re a good fit for the position. But are cover letters necessary?
Cover letters make you stand out from other candidates. It’s also an opportunity for you to show off your writing skills. And that can be useful during an interview or follow-up email exchange.
But, in this age of technology, it’s understandable why people still wonder, “Do I need a cover letter?” Especially since you can submit many applications online or via text message.
So are cover letters necessary? And do you need one? This guide will answer these questions and share expert cover letter tips that can help you land an interview.
Table of Contents
Cover Letters Can Make a Significant Difference in Your Job Application
Cover letters are not necessary, but they can make a huge difference in your job application. Here’s what we mean.
If you’re applying for a job and don’t have a cover letter, it’ll be hard to stand out from other applicants. And that’s because cover letters show why you want to work at a particular company and are serious about it.
For example, two equally qualified candidates are applying for a position, one with a cover letter and one without.
Chances are that the applicant who took the time to write a well-crafted cover letter will get an interview. And that’s because the person, for example, highlighted how their previous accomplishments would help the company to improve.
It’s simply not enough to send only your resume in most situations.
Are Cover Letters Necessary?
Yes, in most cases.
What you should know about cover letters is that they’re optional for some jobs. For example, your resume alone will likely be enough if you apply for an internship or a low-level assistant position.
However, let’s say you’re applying for a higher position, like an executive director position. First, you’ll need to have a well-written cover letter. That will help prove that you’ve researched the company and are interested in being part of its team.
Expressing your interest in an organization isn’t something the hiring manager will get from your application online. That’s why cover letters are crucial and should not be ignored.
Do You Really Need a Cover Letter in 2022?
The short answer is yes; you still need a cover letter in 2022.
One of the purposes of a cover letter is to demonstrate that you understand the position and are invested in it.
They give employers a good idea of who you are as an applicant. And that makes it easier for them to decide whether or not they want to interview you for their open positions.
Your cover letter can also help distinguish you from other candidates who apply for similar positions. You can use your cover letter as an opportunity to show more about yourself than what’s available on paper!
Tips to Prepare a Perfect Cover Letter
1. do your research.
A cover letter is an opportunity to tell a potential employer why they should hire you. So it should be tailored for each job and company.
The first task is to research the company and role, including the person reading your cover letter. It’s not always the hiring manager. Try to find out what they’re looking for in an employee and how their organization operates.
This will give you insight into what’s important to them in an applicant. Also, take some time to think about how today’s job market differs from that of several years ago. That can help you fine-tune your cover letter. It doesn’t matter if the change is small. It can make a huge difference.
2. Tailor Your Cover Letter to Each Role
The first and last thing you want to do is address the person reading your cover letter. Then, when applying for a job, read up on the company and find out who the hiring manager is. If there’s no name listed in the job description, call or email someone at the company to ask whom you should address it.
If there are multiple people responsible for hiring decisions, make sure to address each one individually. For example: “Dear [Hiring Manager],” “ To Whom It May Concern: ” and “Hello Mr./Ms.[First Name]. ‘
3. Don’t Let Your Resume Appear in Your Cover Letter
The primary purpose of a cover letter is to highlight and sell your qualifications. Your resume is the place where you list everything you’ve done. So don’t repeat that information in your cover letter.
Instead, do the following:
- give a brief overview of your qualifications,
- why they make you a good fit for the job, and
- how they relate to the position requirements listed by the company.
Related: How to Address a Cover Letter Without a Name
4. Be Clear and Concise
Be clear and concise to get the most out of your cover letter. One page is okay if you can; you don’t need to use up all the space. If you have more than one page, use bullet points rather than paragraphs. That makes it easier to skim through quickly.
Your tone should be professional throughout. Also, avoid using too many buzzwords, if any, as they tend to be taken seriously if used sparingly.
Finally, consider adding an “about me” section near the end of your letter. You can use that section to list relevant information about yourself that doesn’t fit anywhere else in your application. For example, employment history, educational background, or volunteer work.
5. Avoid Gimmicks, Like Weird Fonts and Drawings
Have you seen some cover letters that looked like a child wrote them? Or that included a drawing of the applicant’s pet cat? Cover letters are not the place to do that; avoid these gimmicks.
They will not help you get the job. In fact, they can do more harm than good by making you seem less professional. It can overshadow your best qualities as an employee.
Try to avoid using standard intro like “My name is [your name], and I am applying for the [position] at [company].” This is not original or creative; it’s uninteresting to read.
Instead, personalize it: “Hi, [name], My name is John Doe, and I’m applying for the Marketing Manager role at ABC Company.”
Having a friendly title will help establish rapport between readers. But don’t be too casual or informal. You want to keep things professional so that they can see how well you’ll fit in with their team or company culture if hired.
6. Use Action Words to Highlight Your Accomplishments
Use action words that highlight your accomplishments and experiences. For example, try using phrases like “increased sales by 55% within 6 months.” Or “led team through a project from concept stage to completion within two weeks.”
This way, even if someone doesn’t remember everything about you, these phrases will help them know whether or not you have what it takes.
7. Don’t Make It All About You
Don’t make the mistake of making the cover letter all about you. Instead of boasting about a skill, talk about how that skill can help the potential employer.
How are you the perfect fit for the company? How will you contribute to the company’s success? And what have you done or will do to help the company? Answer these questions in your cover letter.
8. End Your Cover Letter with Enthusiasm
You may be well qualified and rightfully confident in your abilities. But employers still want to know that you’ll be a motivated and enthusiastic employee.
So, remember to end your cover letter with enthusiasm. This will show your interest in the position and willingness to work hard and passionately if hired.
You have a greater chance of being employed if you are enthusiastic. And you’re also far more likely to stay on board over the long term. So it makes sense that 71% of CEOs believe that employee engagement is essential to the success of their company.
As a result, often, the only factor distinguishing two equally qualified candidates is their level of passion and zeal for the job.
Check our guide on how to write a cover letter for more in-depth details.
Why Is a Cover Letter Important?
Your cover letter gives the hiring manager a chance to know you better. In addition, it’s an opportunity for you to show off your writing skills and make yourself stand out from the crowd.
You can also use it to sell yourself, highlighting why they should hire you, not someone else.
Because there are so many applicants for every open position, employers have less time and resources to read through them. So it’s up to you to make sure that yours stands out from the rest.
The best way is by using a well-crafted cover letter that showcases how great an employee you’ll be if given a chance.
When Can You Skip a Cover Letter?
If you’re applying for a job that doesn’t require a cover letter—say, an internship—you can skip it. In fact, many employers will be quite clear in their postings when they don’t want to see your cover letter.
If the company does not specifically state that it wants a cover letter, you can assume it’s unnecessary. Sometimes, job listings or job descriptions don’t mention a cover letter. But it has all the other required materials, like a resume and references.
In such a situation, submit those documents without attaching additional materials such as your cover letter or résumé summary statement.
Cover Letters Alone Can’t Get the Job Done
You want to make sure you don’t let your employer down before they even meet you. In fact, without a cover letter, you might not even have the chance to meet them. Most recruiting managers expect to receive a cover letter from you.
It helps them get a sense of who you are and decide if you’re a suitable fit for the position. However, you can’t rely solely on a cover letter to get a job. It’s not an alternative to a resume nor an excuse for poorly prepared or formatted documents.
Also, there’s a difference between cover letters and resumes . Knowing the difference can help you craft the perfect cover letter or resume.
A good cover letter does have some value, though: briefly introducing yourself and explaining why you’re applying for the position. It also helps make your application stand out from the competition.
So, are cover letters necessary in 2022? Yes, if you want to stand out from the crowd of applicants. That said, your resume and online presence are enough to get noticed by recruiters these days.
But a well-written cover letter could give you an edge over other candidates.
A good cover letter will show that you care about the position and want it more than anyone else. And that makes all the difference when it comes to hiring decisions!
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Are Cover Letters Necessary? 2023 Guide
Cover letters take time to do well. Learn more about when you should include one.
Cover letters aren't always necessary, but including one with your job application can be beneficial.
Considering the average job receives over 100 applications, a cover letter can be an excellent way to stand out from other applicants. It's an opportunity to clarify your interest in the company, expand on your experience, and demonstrate your fit. Well-written cover letters do have an impact. An experiment from ResumeGo found that applicants who submitted a tailored cover letter were invited to interview more often than applicants who didn’t include one—16.4 percent versus 10.7 percent [ 1 ].
However, recruiters don’t always review cover letters and may only do so once they’ve narrowed their candidate pool. Given the time it takes to research and write a cover letter, it's worth being strategic about when to include one.
In this article, we’ll go over times when it can help to include a cover letter, ways to strengthen your cover letter, and other ways you can go about expressing your interest in a job opening.
Do you need a cover letter?
The only time you absolutely need a cover letter is when the job listing instructs you to include one as part of your application. If the listing doesn't specify, this typically means it's cover letter-optional.
While a cover letter can help you stand out from other candidates and show hiring managers the effort you’ve invested in applying, there’s no denying that it takes time to craft a noticeable one. Beyond hearing why you’re a good fit for the role, companies often want to know why you’re interested in working for them specifically, which takes additional research. For instance, you may want to read about the company’s mission, work culture, or recent press to integrate specific reasons.
After your resume has passed through an applicant tracking system (ATS) , there’s a good chance your prospective employer will read your cover letter if you’ve been flagged as a potential fit.
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4 times when you should submit a cover letter
Here are some scenarios when it can be particularly worthwhile to include a cover letter:
1. When you’re particularly interested in a role
A job search typically entails applying to a range of roles that interest you. Some may be dream jobs, while others may sound appealing—but not to the same extent. Include a cover letter for the jobs that particularly interest you, taking the opportunity to convey your enthusiasm and highlight your most relevant experience and achievements.
2. When there’s more to say
A cover letter should expand on your resume. As such, you may want to include one when you have more to say, such as when you’re preparing for a career change , seeking career advancement , or moving to a new city. Often, a resume can’t fully convey these explanations, but a cover letter is an excellent space to expand on your career goals .
Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters
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3. When there’s a gap on your resume
There may be times in your career when you don’t move directly from one role to another, such as when you take time off to parent your child or care for a family member. In that case, you can address any employment gaps in a cover letter, framing the situation in a positive and productive way and highlighting your goals in pursuing your next career move.
Learn more: 10 Ways to Enhance Your Resume
4. When you have the time
A thoughtful cover letter helps a hiring manager envision how you'd perform on their team, but crafting a good one takes time. Most recruitment professionals will recognize a generic cover letter, and that can be a turnoff. However, if you aren't rushed in your job search , including a cover letter specific to the company and position you're applying for can enhance your application.
Crafting a winning cover letter
A well-crafted cover letter should expand upon your resume rather than repeat information in that document. More than that, it highlights your knowledge about the company, your interest in working there, and your communication skills, and helps set the tone for the hiring process to come. Learn more about how to write a cover letter with our helpful overview.
In terms of length, a cover letter should be no more than one page , and you’ll ideally address it to the hiring manager or, if that information isn’t readily available, the team or department your role would be a part of. Remember to always proofread and correct any grammatical errors before submitting. Beyond those standards, we’ve compiled a list of tips to strengthen your cover letter.
Learn more: Types of Resumes: Choosing the Right Format for Your Needs
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Cover letters for specific situations
It’s helpful to shape your cover letter to fit the type of role you’re applying to. Below, you’ll find specific advice for careers, internal roles, internships, and more.
Project Manager Cover Letter: Example and Tips
Data Analyst Cover Letter: Sample and Guide
How to Write a Cover Letter When You’re Changing Careers
How to Write a Cover Letter for an Internal Position
How to Write an Internship Cover Letter: 9 Tips
Other ways to express your interest in a job
A cover letter is an excellent opportunity to express your interest in the job and the company hiring for it. Here are some additional ways to convey your knowledge and enthusiasm:
Reach out to a recruiter on LinkedIn.
Reaching out to a recruiter on LinkedIn , introducing yourself, and expressing your interest in the role (as well as the fact that you’ve already applied for it) can be a great way to get your name in front of the right person. Given that recruiters can still end up sorting through a large number of resumes once the ATS has initially processed applications, it can be beneficial to network in this way.
Contact the hiring manager.
Most job postings will not name the hiring manager outright but may include their title. If you can find the hiring manager’s name and email after conducting further research about the team, it may be worthwhile to send a brief email stating that you have applied for the position and outlining your qualifications and interest in the role.
Learn more: Cover Letter Tips: How to Stand Out to a Hiring Manager
See if you know someone at the company.
If you know someone who works at the company, ask them to refer you for the role, which may need to be done before you officially apply. Doing so is an excellent way to stand out from other applicants. What’s more, internal referrals are four times more likely to be hired, according to LinkedIn [ 2 ].
Learn more: 9 Networking Tips to Expand and Strengthen Your Network
Refresh your cover letter writing skills with the University of Maryland’s course Writing Winning Resumes and Cover Letters on Coursera. Enroll for a free, 7-day trial today.
ResumeGo. “ Cover Letters: Just How Important Are They? https://www.resumego.net/research/cover-letters/.” Accessed January 19, 2023.
LinkedIn. “ Employee Referral Statistics You Need to Know for 2020 , https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/employee-referral-statistics-you-need-know-2020-mike-stafiej/.” Accessed January 19, 2023.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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How to Write a Cover Letter in 2023 | Beginner's Guide
After weeks of heavy job search, you’re almost there!
You’ve perfected your resume.
You’ve short-listed the coolest jobs you want to apply for.
You’ve even had a friend train you for every single interview question out there.
But then, before you can send your application and call it a day, you remember that the job ad requires a cover letter.
Now you’re stuck wondering how to write a cover letter ...
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Writing a cover letter is a lot simpler than you might think.
In this guide, we’re going to teach you how to write a cover letter that gets you the job you deserve.
- What’s a cover letter & why it’s important for your job search
- How to write a convincing cover letter that gets you the job (step-by-step!)
- How to perfect your cover letter with the Novoresume free checklist
- What excellent cover letter examples look like
So, let’s get started with the basics!
What is a Cover Letter? (and Why It’s Important)
A cover letter is a one-page document that you submit as part of your job application (alongside your CV or Resume).
Its purpose is to introduce you and briefly summarize your professional background. On average, your cover letter should be from 250 to 400 words long .
A good cover letter can spark the HR manager’s interest and get them to read your resume.
A bad cover letter, on the other hand, might mean that your application is going directly to the paper shredder. So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s essential to know how to write a convincing cover letter.
How does a good cover letter look, you might ask. Well, here’s an example:
Keep in mind, though, that a cover letter is a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. Meaning, you don’t just repeat whatever is mentioned in your resume.
If you’re writing a cover letter for the first time, writing all this might seem pretty tough. After all, you’re probably not a professional writer.
The thing is, though, you don’t need to be creative, or even any good at writing. All you have to do is follow a tried-and-tested format:
- Header - Input contact information
- Greeting the hiring manager
- Opening paragraph - Grab the reader’s attention with 2-3 of your top achievements
- Second paragraph - Explain why you’re the perfect candidate for the job
- Third paragraph - Explain why you’re a good match for the company
- Formal closing
Or, here’s what this looks like in practice:
How to Write the Perfect Cover Letter (And Get Hired!)
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, we’re going to guide you through the process of writing a cover letter step by step.
Step #1 - Pick the Right Cover Letter Template
A good cover letter is all about leaving the right first impression.
So, what’s a better way to leave a good impression than a well-formatted, visual template?
You can simply pick one of our hand-picked cover letter templates , and you’ll be all set in a jiffy!
As a bonus, our AI will even give you suggestions on how to improve your cover letter on the go.
Step #2 - Start the Cover Letter with a Header
As with a resume, it’s important to start your cover letter with a Contact Information section:
Here, you want to include all essential information, including:
- Phone Number
- Name of the hiring manager / their professional title
- Name of the company you’re applying to
In certain cases, you might also consider adding:
- Social Media Profiles - Any type of profile that’s relevant to your field. Social Profiles on websites like LinkedIn, GitHub (for developers), Medium (for writers), etc.
- Personal Website - If you have a personal website that somehow adds value to your application, you can mention it. Let’s say you’re a professional writer. In that case, you’d want to link to your blog.
And here’s what you shouldn’t mention in your header:
- Your Full Address
- Unprofessional Email - Make sure your email is presentable. It’s pretty hard for a hiring manager to take you seriously if your email address is “[email protected]” Whenever applying for jobs, stick to the “[first name] + [last name] @ email provider.com” format.
Step #3 - Greet the Hiring Manager
Once you’ve properly listed your contact information, you need to start writing the cover letter contents.
The first thing to do here is to address the cover letter to the hiring manager .
That’s right, the hiring manager! Not the overly popular “Dear Sir or Madam.” You want to show your future boss that you did your research and are really passionate about working with their team.
No one wants to hire a job seeker who just spams 20+ companies and hopes to get hired in any of them.
So, how do you find out who’s the hiring manager? There are several ways to do this.
The simplest option is to look up the head of the relevant department on LinkedIn. Let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Communication Specialist at Novoresume. The hiring manager is probably Head of Communications or Chief Communications Office.
So, you do a quick lookup on LinkedIn:
And voila! You have your hiring manager.
Or let’s say you’re applying for the position of a server. In that case, you’d be looking for the “restaurant manager.”
If this doesn’t work, you can also check out the “Team” page on the company website; there’s a good chance you’ll at least find the right person there.
Here are several other greetings you could use:
- Dear [Department] Hiring Manager
- Dear Hiring Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear [Department] Team
Step #4 - Write an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
First impressions matter, especially when it comes to your job search.
Recruiters get hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of applications. Chances are, they’re not going to be reading every single cover letter end-to-end.
So, it’s essential to catch their attention from the very first paragraph .
The #1 problem we see with most cover letter opening paragraphs is that they’re usually extremely generic. Most of them look something like this..
- Hey, my name is Jonathan and I’d like to work as a Sales Manager at XYZ Inc. I’ve worked as a sales manager at MadeUpCompany Inc. for 5+ years, so I believe that I’d be a good fit for the position.
See the issue here? This opening paragraph doesn’t say pretty much anything except the fact that you’ve worked the job before.
Do you know who else has similar work experience? All the other applicants you’re competing with.
Instead, you want to start off with 2-3 of your top achievements to really grab the reader’s attention. Preferably, the achievements should be as relevant as possible to the position.
So now, let’s make our previous example shine:
My name’s Michael and I’d like to help XYZ Inc. hit and exceed their sales goals as a Sales Manager. I’ve worked with Company X, a fin-tech company, for 3+ years. As a Sales Representative, I generated an average of $30,000+ in sales per month (beating the KPIs by around 40%). I believe that my previous industry experience, as well as excellence in sales, makes me the right candidate for the job.
See the difference between the two examples? If you were the hiring manager, which sales manager would you hire, Jonathan or Michael?
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, let’s talk about the body of your cover letter. This part is split into two paragraphs: the first is for explaining why you’re the perfect person for the job, and the latter is for proving that you’re a good fit for the company.
So, let’s get started...
Step #5 - Explain why you’re the perfect person for the job
This is where you show off your professional skills and convince the HR manager that you’re a better fit for the job than all the other applicants.
But first things first - before you even write anything, you need to learn what the most important requirements for the role are. So, open up the job ad and identify which of the responsibilities are the most critical.
For the sake of the example, let’s say you’re applying for the position of a Facebook Advertiser. You scan the job ad and see that the top requirements are:
- Experience managing a Facebook ad budget of $10,000+ / month
- Some skills in advertising on other platforms (Google Search + Twitter)
- Excellent copywriting skills
Now, in this section, you need to discuss how you fulfill these requirements. So, here’s how that would look for our example:
In my previous role as a Facebook Marketing Expert at XYZ Inc. I handled customer acquisition through ads, managing a monthly Facebook ad budget of $20,000+ . As the sole digital marketer at the company, I managed the ad creation & management process end-to-end. Meaning, I created the ad copy , images, picked the targeting, ran optimization trials, and so on.
Other than Facebook advertising, I’ve also delved into other online PPC channels, including:
- Google Search
Are you a student applying for your first internship? You probably don’t have a lot of work experience to show off in this section. Learn how to write an internship cover letter here.
Step #6 - Explain why you’re a good fit for the company
Once you’ve written the last paragraph, you might be thinking - I’m a shoo-in for the job! What else do I need to write? I’ll just wrap up the cover letter and hit that sweet SEND button.
Well, no. You’re not quite there yet.
The HR manager doesn’t only look at whether you’ll be good at the job or not. They’re looking for someone that’s also a good fit for the company culture.
After all, employees that don’t fit in are bound to quit, sooner or later. This ends up costing the company a ton of money, up to 50% of the employee’s annual salary .
Meaning, you also need to convince the HR manager that you’re really passionate about working with them.
How do you do this? Well, as a start, you want to do some research about the company. You want to know things like:
- What’s the company’s business model?
- What’s the company product or service? Have you used it?
- What’s the culture like? Will someone micro-manage your work, or will you have autonomy on how you get things done?
So, get to Googling. Chances are, you’ll find all the information you need either on the company website or somewhere around the web.
Then, you need to figure out what you like about the company and turn that into text.
Let’s say, for example, you’re passionate about their product and you like the culture of innovation / independent work in the organization.
You’d write something like:
I’ve personally used the XYZ Smartphone, and I believe that it’s the most innovative tech I’ve used in years. The features such as Made-Up-Feature #1 and Made-Up-Feature #2 were real game changers for the device.
I really admire how Company XYZ thrives for excellence for all its product lines, creating market-leading tech. As someone that thrives in a self-driven environment, I truly believe that I and Company XYZ will be a great match.
What you don’t want to do here is be super generic for the sake of having something to write. Most job seekers tend to mess this one up. Let’s take a look at a very common example we tend to see (way too often):
I’d love to work for Company XYZ because of its culture of innovation. I believe that since I’m super creative, I’d be a good fit for the company. The company values of integrity and transparency really vibe with me.
See what’s wrong here? The example doesn’t really say anything about the company. “Culture of Innovation” is something most companies claim to have.
The same goes for “values of integrity and transparency” - the writer just googled what the values for the organization are, and said that they like them.
Any hiring manager that reads this will see through the fluff.
So, make sure to do a lot of research and come up with good reasons why you're applying.
Step #7 - Wrap up with a call to action
Finally, it’s time to finish up your cover letter and write the conclusion.
In the final paragraph, you want to:
- Wrap up any points you couldn't in the previous paragraphs. Do you have anything left to say? Any other information that could help the hiring manager make their decision? Mention it here.
- Thank the hiring manager for their time. It never hurts to be courteous, as long as you don’t come off as too needy.
- Finish the cover letter with a call to action. The very last sentence in your cover letter should be a call to action. You should ask the hiring manager to take some sort of action.
And now, let’s turn this into a practical example:
So to wrap it all up, thanks for looking into my application. I hope I can help Company X make the most out of their Facebook marketing initiatives. I'd love to further discuss how my previous success at XYZ Inc. can help you achieve your facebook marketing goals.
Step #8 - Use the right formal closing
Once you’re done with the final paragraph, all you have to do is write down a formal “goodbye” and you’re good to go.
Feel free to use one of the most popular conclusions to a cover letter:
- Best Regards,
- Kind Regards,
And we’re finally done! Before sending off the cover letter, make sure to proofread it with software like Grammarly, or maybe even get a friend to review it for you.
Does your cover letter heading include all essential information?
- Professional email
- Relevant Social Media Profiles
Do you address the right person? I.e. hiring manager in the company / your future direct supervisor
Does your introductory paragraph grab the reader's attention?
- Did you mention 2-3 of your top achievements?
- Did you use numbers and facts to back up your experience?
Do you successfully convey that you’re the right pro for the job?
- Did you identify the core requirements?
- Did you successfully convey how your experiences help you fit the requirements perfectly?
Do you convince the hiring manager that you’re passionate about the company you’re applying to?
- Did you identify the top 3 things that you like about the company?
- Did you avoid generic reasons for explaining your interest in the company?
Did you finalize the conclusion with a call to action?
Did you use the right formal closure for the cover letter?
5+ Cover Letter Examples
Need some inspiration? Read on to learn about some of the best cover letter examples we’ve seen (for different fields).
College Student Cover Letter Example
Middle Management Cover Letter Example
Career Change Cover Letter Example
Management Cover Letter Example
Senior Executive Cover Letter Example
Want to discover more examples AND learn what makes them stand out? Check out our guide to cover letter examples .
Next Steps in Your Job Search - Creating a Killer Resume
Your cover letter is only as good as your resume. If either one is weak, your entire application is for naught.
After all, a cover letter is just an introduction. Imagine going through all this effort to leave an amazing first impression, but flopping at the end because of a mediocre resume.
...But don’t you worry, we’ve got you covered on that end, too.
If you want to learn more about Resumes & CVs, we have a dedicated FREE guide for that. Check out our complete guide on how to make a resume , as well as how to write a CV - our experts will teach you everything you need to know in order to land your dream job.
Or, if you’re already an expert, just pick one of our resume templates and get started.
Now that we’ve walked you through all the steps of writing a cover letter, let’s summarize everything we’ve learned:
- A cover letter is a 250 - 400 word document that convinces the hiring manager of your competence
- A cover letter goes in your job application alongside your resume
- Your introduction to the cover letter should grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep it all the way until the conclusion
- There are 2 main topics you need to include in your cover letter: why you’re the perfect candidate for the job & why you’re passionate about working in the company you’re applying to
- Most of the content of your cover letter should be factual , without any fluff or generalizations
At Novorésumé, we’re committed to helping you get the job you deserve, every step of the way! Follow our blog to stay up to date with the industry-leading advice. Or, check out some of our top guides…
- How to Write a Motivational Letter
- How to Write a Resume with No Work Experience
- Most Common Interview Questions and Answers
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mental health associate cover letter Examples & Samples for 2023
Support is offered by mental health professionals to those who are mentally ill or have developmental disabilities. It takes emotional stability, empathy, and the capacity to manage and restrain patients with mental health conditions to perform this demanding job. Patients’ problems are typically discussed with them, medications are given, distressed patients are helped, people are shown how to control their emotions, patient records are kept, and activities are planned to keep patients busy and entertained are all typical duties.
Check out the rest of our collection of more than 1000 cover letter samples if this isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.
Check out our more comprehensive guide to the requirements for becoming a mental health worker for more information.
A strong cover letter can set you apart from the competition. Learn how to create one in our .
Here is the Mental Health Support Worker Cover Letter example:
Dear Ms. Nancy Fowler,
The Mental Health Support Worker position being advertised by Del Amo Hospital has my full attention.
Giving patients with mental health issues support is a wonderful job that can be very rewarding but also very emotionally taxing. I possess the qualities necessary to be among the top support staff in my industry, which includes kindness, patience, and a genuine desire to assist these people.
I’ve learned the abilities and knowledge necessary to assist these people in the daily struggles they face. I can assist these patients in coping with their disabilities and overcoming some of the daily challenges they face because I have a bachelor’s degree in social work.
I can assist them in carrying out the straightforward tasks that most people take for granted. They gain a little bit of independence as a result, which can significantly improve their quality of life. I have the knowledge and genuine motivation to assist these individuals in social growth and self-sufficiency education.
I am qualified to give these people advice and can point them in the right direction as they learn new skills because of my education and experience. I can give them the self-assurance they need to develop friendships and have a personal life that allows them to enjoy activities like sports, going to the theater, or just taking a stroll in a public park.
You can reach me for an interview at (555)-555-5555. I hope to use my experience to assist and educate the patients associated with your facility.
Resume Attached as MS Word Document
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Will the FDIC's move to cover uninsured deposits set a risky precedent?
The FDIC normally insures deposits up to $250,000. It made an exception when Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed, guaranteeing all deposits at both banks. Peter Morgan/AP hide caption
The FDIC normally insures deposits up to $250,000. It made an exception when Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed, guaranteeing all deposits at both banks.
For years, the FDIC has insured up to $250,000 of deposits that anyone has stashed away at a federally protected bank. Anything beyond that is not guaranteed to be protected should a financial institution go belly up.
But over the weekend, following the spectacular collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, the FDIC made an exception to that rule and is now in the process of paying back all customers of the two failed banks in full — no matter the size of their deposits.
The move has renewed a huge debate over government intervention in the banking industry and has raised questions over how the FDIC will operate moving forward should other banks run into trouble.
Here's a rundown of how the FDIC is handling the bank collapse:
How is the FDIC paying SVB and Signature Bank customers back?
Banks pay fees that go into an insurance fund. That fund is what helps pay customers back — up to $250,000 — in the event a bank fails. The FDIC is tapping into this same fund, not money from taxpayers, to pay SVB and Signature Bank customers back in full, including those uninsured portions.
More than 90% of SVB's deposits exceeded the $250,000 insurance cap because most of the bank's customers were tech startups that had deposits in the tens of millions of dollars. The bank did business with nearly half of all U.S. tech startups as well as well known tech companies including Pinterest, Shopify, and the TV streaming provider Roku.
Why does the FDIC have insurance limits when it's clearly able and willing to go beyond that?
The $250,000 limit was designed to keep people from thinking they could always fall back on the government if their financial institutions fall apart.
"It's a question of moral hazard," says Sheila Bair, who ran the FDIC during the 2008 recession. "For wealthier people or companies or large organizations that will have bigger deposits, you want them to look at the bank carefully, kick the tires, make sure it's a safe place."
Regulators say they had to make an exception for Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank because there were signs panic was spreading and this was the only way to contain the possibility of a larger run on the banks.
Will the FDIC's exception set a precedent?
Analysts and former Fed officials are concerned that the FDIC's move will reset expectations and leave people under the impression that uninsured depositors — and those who manage those deposits — will ultimately be covered no matter what.
"Depositors no longer have to be aware of the condition of the bank because they know or they have some confidence that they will be paid off, even if they're uninsured," says Thomas Hoenig, former vice chair of the FDIC and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. "A banker can take greater risk because they can easily raise deposits if people don't worry about whether they're going to get paid back or not."
Hoenig and others say the FDIC has set a new and risky precedent at a precarious moment when inflation is high, interest rates are climbing, and banks with investments in government-backed securities could potentially run into trouble. The FDIC's move has also sparked a huge debate about when and for whom the government is willing to stage an intervention. Critics view this as a bailout favoring the wealthy, while others argue this intervention was essential and that all deposits, at least for now, must be guaranteed because if people start feeling like their small regional bank is unsafe, it will could ignite broader panic across the financial system.
Is there a sense that other banks are also at risk of failing?
Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank were unique in many ways. They were the banks of choice for tech start-ups and companies in the cryptocurrency space, two sectors that have run into trouble in recent months.
Tech and crypto companies started pulling out their deposits as their fortunes soured at the same time these two banks were taking major hits to their investments in long term Treasury bonds. Government bonds are normally safe, but their value declined when interest rates quickly climbed. That put the banks in a squeeze and former Fed officials and regulators wonder if other banks have similarly failed to account for the risks of higher interest rates.
Are there lessons for people or businesses who have large sums of money at a bank?
Let's start with people. If you have under $250,000 sitting in an account at a bank, it is 100% covered by the FDIC under all circumstances. If your deposits exceed that amount — say, after the sale of a house, or if you inherit a large sum of money — then you will want to spread your money around and not keep it in a a single account or at just one bank. Spreading your money means spreading your risk.
For businesses with bigger deposits, analysts say the value of a bank's stock is not a great indicator of stability. Instead they advise scrutinizing a bank's growth rate. Rapid growth may suggest riskier investments. Also, look at whether the bank is making money, how much capital they have, and what kinds of losses they've experienced in the past. If a bank mostly services a particular industry, a downturn in relevant sectors may mean companies will need access to their cash; how much capital a bank has available will be essential in those periods.
- interest rate
- Signature Bank
- silicon valley bank
- federal bailouts
- Federal Reserve
Cover letters are commonly used when applying for jobs, but they may not always be necessary. Some employers may not want to review many cover letters or might want to test how people follow instructions by saying not to include one. If you're applying for jobs, you may not be sure when a cover letter is necessary.
When you apply for an open position at an organization, employers typically require you to submit a resume, while other application documents, like a cover letter, may be optional. While employers may not require a cover letter, there are various benefits to submitting one with your application.
So when is it necessary to send a cover letter? Here's the thing: Hiring managers love them — they get you noticed quickly, show you've gone the extra mile and demonstrate how much you really...
After 30 days, applications with tailored cover letters were 53% more likely to have gotten an interview callback than applications with no cover letter, and even generic cover letters were 17% better than no cover letter at all. Meaning, yes: Cover letters do still matter and they can help you get to the next round in the hiring process.
A cover letter is not always necessary for an online application, but it can be a good way to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and provide additional information that's not included in your resume. If the job posting specifically asks for a cover letter, then it's definitely necessary to include one.
Sending one, particularly when it is not required, demonstrates that you are a motivated candidate. Note Cover letters allow you—in narrative form—to tell the employer exactly why hiring you, instead of the numerous other candidates, is a good decision. When Not to Send a Cover Letter
Yes, cover letters are necessary, but you don't have to force yourself to submit one, especially when it's not a requirement. It is preferable not to receive a cover letter for hiring managers and recruiters than to obtain one that's poorly written.
For some jobs, you won't need a cover letter to apply. Some employers don't accept cover letters as part of the application process. For other positions, there may be no way to submit one. If a cover letter is optional, it's better to skip it if you don't have the time to compose a well-written one. When the Employer Doesn't Want One
So if you're wondering whether you should include a cover letter, the answer is yes in most cases. You should include a cover letter even if it isn't required. There are only a few exceptions. For example, you might not need a cover letter if you're applying online. Some applicant tracking systems don't allow candidates to submit them.
You need a cover letter in most cases, especially when a cover letter is required in the job ad. When the cover letter is required for a given job posting and you fail to attach one, only 13% of decision-makers will process your application. Do Employers and Recruiters Read Cover Letters?
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! By Brett Helling
A cover letter gives you the chance to express your personality through your word choice, tone of voice and other communication skills. Unlike a CV that simply states your skills and experiences, a cover letter allows you to describe your thoughts, lessons and ambitions. This is a crucial advantage because it sets you apart from other qualified ...
A cover letter may be a requirement for some situations, such as if the hiring manager requests one. A cover letter may be necessary when: you want to add important information not present on your resume you have a personal connection or referral to the job you're applying for a high-level position
Although a cover letter may not be necessary when applying for every role, there are some situations in which they can be especially useful. These scenarios include: When you have a gap in your employment history: It may be necessary to write a cover letter if there is a noticeable gap in your resume.
A cover letter is probably not necessary to get a job in most situations, but there's always a chance that it might be, meaning there's no harm in sending one. Your resume should give the employer the basics of your experience and they can do the math to determine if your skills line up with their opening.
If the job listing specifically states that a cover letter isn't necessary or required, you shouldn't feel compelled to write one. In fact, blatantly ignoring the instructions found within the job listing is a surefire way to get your application discarded. Final thoughts
Cover letters are not necessary, but they can make a huge difference in your job application. Here's what we mean. If you're applying for a job and don't have a cover letter, it'll be hard to stand out from other applicants. And that's because cover letters show why you want to work at a particular company and are serious about it.
Is a cover letter necessary? The short answer is yes. Most recruitment companies and employers agree that a cover letter is an essential part of the job application process that can boost your chances of progressing to an interview.
Written by Coursera • Updated on Jan 23, 2023. Cover letters take time to do well. Learn more about when you should include one. Cover letters aren't always necessary, but including one with your job application can be beneficial. Considering the average job receives over 100 applications, a cover letter can be an excellent way to stand out ...
Yes, an entry-level cover letter is a must. You might not have many professional or relevant experiences to list on your resume (e.g. you're a recent college graduate or you're changing career paths), so the cover letter is where you can convey your enthusiasm and commitment.
Header - Input contact information. Greeting the hiring manager. Opening paragraph - Grab the reader's attention with 2-3 of your top achievements. Second paragraph - Explain why you're the perfect candidate for the job. Third paragraph - Explain why you're a good match for the company. Formal closing.
You may check a sample software engineer cover letter to have a clear idea of what relevant skills you can add to your cover letter. 3. Mention achievements & notable projects. It is critical to ...
A strong cover letter can set you apart from the competition. Learn how to create one in our . Here is the Mental Health Support Worker Cover Letter example: ... I've learned the abilities and knowledge necessary to assist these people in the daily struggles they face. I can assist these patients in coping with their disabilities and ...
Some say the decision to guarantee deposits beyond the typical $250,000 limit was necessary to keep the financial system stable. Others argue this sets a bad precedent if other banks run into trouble.