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Do I always need a cover letter?

Cover letters provide job seekers with an opportunity to introduce themselves to their future employers. Your cover letter is your first chance to make a good impression. However, when you are applying to a lot of jobs, writing cover letters can be a time-consuming process.

Writing cover letters come with their own challenges. Oftentimes, employers will request a cover letter in the job listing. Sometimes, however, they do not. So, is it really necessary to write one if it is not required? In short, yes. You should almost always send in a cover letter with your application, even when the employer does not require it. There are a few exceptions, which we will go over below.

Yes, You Do Need A Cover Letter

If you really want to land the job, you should absolutely write a cover letter. You cover letter gives you the chance to tell your employer, in your own words, your qualifications and why you would be the best person for the job. A cover letter also sends a message to the employer that you are very interested in the job. You took the time to write the letter, so you must be very dedicated to getting the job.

Writing a cover letter gives you the extra space to go into detail about certain information that you are unable to do on your resume. Any gaps in your resume can be explained in your cover letter. If you have a skill or experience that is especially pertinent to your new job, you can explain it further in your cover letter. Use an example to prove your qualifications.

In general, even when they do not request cover letters, employers expect to receive them. Those who do not compose a cover letter are perceived as less motivated for the job. Not writing a cover letter can actually prevent you from landing an interview. It is in your best interest to include one.

When You Should Not Submit A Cover Letter

There are a few occasions when you shouldn’t send in a cover letter.

  • If the job application instructions explicitly state that you should not submit a cover letter.
  • If you must apply through an online platform that does not provide a spot to upload a cover letter.

In these cases, you do not need to worry about writing a cover letter. That being said, in general, no cover letter is better than a badly written one. If you do not have the time to write a strong cover letter, you are better off not writing one at all.

How To Write A Strong Cover Letter

Writing a good cover letter may seem daunting. Here are a few things you should think about when writing yours to make it stand out from the crowd.

  • Be concise. Keep your letter short, taking up no more than one page with between three and five paragraphs. Anything longer may not be read completely through.
  • Customize your letter. Alter your cover letter to fit the position you are trying to land. Do some research on the company and think about how your skills will meet their needs. Try to include this in your letter.
  • Showcase your skills beyond what is written on your resume. The last thing an employer wants to read in a cover letter is a narrative form of your resume. Write about specific examples not included in your resume or expand upon your resume. You may also choose to write about how you can help the company improve or solve a big problem with one of your skills.
  • Inject some personality into your letter. Every other part of your application is fairly bland and uniform. Your cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself and let the company get a preview of your personality and communication style. Shoot for originality over the generic.
  • Keep it professional. You can spice up your cover letter with personality while still remaining professional. When writing, you must understand your audience. Do some research to get a feel for the culture of the company you are applying to. Keep that in mind when writing your letter as well. Businesses want somebody who will fit in with their company culture.
  • Proofread before you submit it. Be sure you read and reread your cover letter. Spelling and grammar errors can lower your chances of landing an interview. Check for any errors and edit them before you submit your cover letter. You may also want to ask a family member or friend to read it over for you and check for any misspelt words or confusing sentences.
My name is Joost and I have been active as a recruiter for the past 5 years. At, I share my experience, tips and the "secret" tricks to help you get a job. Do you have questions? Please send me an email via the contact form.