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Are cover letters still necessary in 2018?
Polishing a resume and cover letter for every job takes time, and it’s all too common for job seekers to end up asking, “Do I even need a cover letter?”
In a competitive jobs market, candidates often have to decide between perfecting every resume and cover letter they send out or applying for as many jobs as possible.
But is a cover letter really necessary? Here’s a quick rundown of when you need one, when you don’t, and how to write a great cover letter.
When do you need a cover letter?
The most obvious time you need to include a cover letter is when it’s specifically requested in the job listing. If you leave one out in this instance, it’s highly likely your application will be overlooked in favour of others that have included all the requested information.
Including a cover letter is also useful for candidates with a long work history, as it allows you to highlight the most relevant skills and areas of experience you have that pertain to the job you’re applying for.
Conversely, if you’re applying for your ideal job but don’t have a whole lot of experience, a cover letter offers you the chance to show how passionate you are about the job and industry and explain why you’re worth interviewing despite the skill gap.
When is a professional resume enough?
Occasionally you don’t need to include a cover letter, such as when you don’t have the option to upload one or when you’re submitting an application to someone you already know well. However, if it’s not clear, it’s better to include a cover letter than not, as it will show you’re eager and dedicated.
For those jobs where a cover letter isn’t needed, don’t forget that nowadays a good resume is virtually never enough. In 2018, recruiters and employers look at everything from your LinkedIn and your other social media profiles to your online portfolio (depending on your industry) – so it’s important to keep everything up to date and relevant to the jobs you’re looking for.
What should you include in your cover letter?
It’s not uncommon for recruiters and employers to look at hundreds of cover letters before shortlisting candidates, so it’s important to keep yours short and sweet. Make sure to do the following:
- Address the hiring manager by his or her name, if you know it
- Mention the role you’re applying for
- Include an engaging opening statement about why you’re the ideal candidate for the role
- Align your skills and experience to the job, and include related keywords and phrases
- Include any relevant key successes you’ve had in previous jobs
- State why you’re passionate about the job and industry
- Close with a call to action to meet
As a general rule, keep your cover letter to one page and make sure the information you include is relevant to the specific job you’re applying for.
Need help writing a cover letter? Download our free cover letter templates.