Do I Need a Cover Letter in 2023? Are Cover Letters Mandatory?
During the job-hunting process, you might find yourself asking “do I really need a cover letter?”
And honestly, that’s a very good question.
You might’ve heard a lot of recruiters say that cover letters aren’t nearly as important as the resume. Some recruiters even openly admit that they don’t read cover letters at all.
So, no wonder that you’re confused about whether or not you really need a cover letter.
In this article, we’re going to deep dive into the topic and teach you when you really need a cover letter (and when you don’t).
- Whether you need to include a cover letter in your application (and why)
- When to not include a cover letter with your resume
- When to really put effort into your cover letter
Do I Need a Cover Letter For My Resume
Short answer: yes , you should submit a cover letter alongside your resume.
- Most job openings require you to submit a cover letter. Recruiters might not have the time to read ALL the cover letters they receive, but they will definitely read cover letters if they’re on the fence for a candidate. Besides, even if they never get to your cover letter, failing to submit one when it’s required will be a red flag.
- A cover letter shows that you’ve put in the extra effort. So, even if the recruiters don’t read them, they will know that you really want the job and that you are committed to taking all necessary steps to show you’re worth it.
- A cover letter can set you apart from other candidates. Imagine this scenario: a recruiter is looking at two candidates with the same exact professional background and resume. The difference? One submitted an A++ cover letter that showed exactly why they’re the perfect fit for the job, while the other just copied and pasted an internet template. Which one would you pick? Our point exactly!
The above being said, there do exist a few cases where a cover letter isn’t necessary and a few others where you shouldn't just submit a cover letter, but you should really put in the extra effort to make it memorable!
Ready to go through them?
When Not to Include a Cover Letter
The 3 cases where you don’t need to include a cover letter with your application are:
#1. The job opening doesn’t require one.
Yeap, in some cases, the job description will specifically instruct you not to submit a cover letter when you’re applying for the position. Needless to say, submitting one regardless of the instructions will not make you a poster child for dedication; it will just show you can’t follow instructions.
#2. You don’t have the time to customize your cover letters.
If there’s one thing that’s worse than not submitting a cover letter, is submitting a bad cover letter. What do we mean by bad? An uncustomized cover letter, or a cover letter based on a one-fits-all kind of template that you plan on mass-sending to all the jobs you’re applying for.
So, if you’re applying to many jobs and you just don’t have the time (or creativity) to write a separate cover letter tailored to each job, then just don’t write one instead of making that cover letter mistake.
#3. There is no place to upload one on the application platform.
When you’re filling out an online job application, you might notice there is no place to upload a cover letter.
Consider that a clear sign that a cover letter is not required for that particular role.
When Should You Put Extra Effort to Submit a Cover Letter
Now, as we said, the best practice is to submit a cover letter with your resume for any job, internship, or even internal position that you apply for (unless they explicitly ask you not to).
That being said, there are a few cases in which you should REALLY submit a cover letter—and put in extra effort to make it significant:
- You have important information to add. It might be a career gap, the need for a relocation, or a career change - anything, basically, that you can’t go into detail about in your resume. Your cover letter is your chance to explain it (especially if it adds significant value to your application).
- There’s a personal connection/referral. If someone has personally referred you to the company, make sure to acknowledge that in your cover letter. A personal referral means bonus points for your application, so don’t miss out on a chance to mention it.
- You have a link to the company. Did you complete an internship at the company? Or maybe you know the hiring manager or someone higher up the ranks outside of work. No matter the case, be upfront about any link you may have to the company in your cover letter. It will probably do your application good or at least show those reading it that you’re transparent.
- It’s your dream job. Without making it a love letter to the company, use your cover letter to express what this job means to you professionally and how it’ll help you thrive. Passion goes a long way!
6 Tips For a Perfect Cover Letter
The bottom line?
Overwhelmingly, a cover letter is an essential part of your job application and you should include one with your resume.
So, as you can imagine, your cover letter should be on par with your resume. Before you start writing your cover letter, here are a few tips to make the process easier for you:
- Keep it short. One page is more than enough when it comes to cover letters. Actually, the optimal length for a cover letter is between 250-400 words long.
- Follow submission instructions. In the job description, look out for specifics on the cover letter format (Word or PDF), fonts and margins, and content (such as which sections or information to include).
- Proofread your cover letter. Once you’re done writing, make sure your cover letter doesn’t have any grammar or spelling mistakes. Use spell check software such as Grammarly to be on the safe side.
- Avoid cliches. Saying you’re a “great team player” or “effective communicator” will get you nowhere. Instead, aim to show it by backing it up with your experience. Think, “I’m a great communicator” versus “I’m a great communicator, having closed 50+ sales per month at my last job.”
- Enhance your personal brand. Opt to use the same fonts, margins, colors, and style in both your resume and cover letter. In this way, you can highlight your personal brand and make more of an impression on the hiring manager.
- Use action verbs . To make your achievements stand out, use action verbs. So, instead of repeating “I was responsible for” or “I was in charge of,” you can use action verbs such as “managed” or “coordinated.”
Do you still have some unanswered questions? Here are the most frequently asked questions on whether cover letters are mandatory.
Do I need a cover letter for a part-time job?
You should follow the same practice with your part-time job application as you would with a full-time one. That means you should definitely submit a strong cover letter with your resume (unless otherwise indicated in the job description).
Do I need a cover letter for an internal position?
When you apply for an internal position within the company, you should create a cover letter to highlight your experience and professional interest in the position.
Do I need a cover letter for an internship?
Yes, you should include a cover letter with your resume when you’re applying for an internship. The cover letter should focus on your skills and strengths, your education, and your dedication to the internship program.
Not sure how to write a cover letter for an internship from scratch? This article will tell you all you need to know!
Do I need a cover letter for an entry-level job?
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. Plus, you can also (in words) explain how your skills from your university or past career translate into the job you’re applying for.
Do employers read the cover letter or resume first?
Generally, employers will first read your resume to see if you have the relevant experience or skills for the position. From there, they decide whether your cover letter is worth reading or not. If you send your cover letter in the body of the email where you have attached your resume, though, the recruiter will probably skim through it before opening your resume.
Keep in mind that in such a case your cover letter should be perfect, especially in terms of spelling and business etiquette. If the recruiter spots a “u r” instead of “you are,” or a smiley face, they might not even get to your resume.
Want your cover letter to match your resume? We are confident that the hiring manager will appreciate the effort. Do it effortlessly by using Novorésumé's matching cover letter and resume templates !
Well, that was all on whether cover letters are mandatory in 2023. We hope that we answered all your questions on the topic.
Here’s a quick review of the main things we covered:
- In 98% of cases, you should include a cover letter in your job application. Although recruiters might not always read it, they expect candidates to submit one. A cover letter will considerably boost your chances and set you apart from other candidates with similar backgrounds and resumes.
- Don’t include a cover letter if the job opening specifies it’s not necessary, if you don’t have time to customize it to the position, or if there is no place to upload one in the application platform.
- Put extra effort in your cover letter if you have extra information to add to your resume if you have been personally referred for the job, if you have a link to the company, or if you’re applying to your dream job.
- How to Start a Cover Letter
- How to End a Cover Letter
- How to Address a Cover Letter
- Search Search Please fill out this field.
- Career Planning
- Finding a Job
- Cover Letters
How To Email a Resume and Cover Letter Attachment
Ashley Nicole DeLeon / The Balance
Depending on the job for which you're applying, you may need to email your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. That's often the case with smaller employers. For other employers, you'll apply online or via a job board.
What's the easiest way to attach your resume and cover letter to an email message? When you're asked to send a resume or cover letter via email, follow these steps to ensure you have correctly attached your documents, written an email explaining what you are sending and why, added your signature to the email, and included a subject line that will get your message opened and read by the recipient.
- Most employers request a Microsoft Word document or a PDF file of your resume.
- It's easy to save your documents in the file format requested by an employer.
- When saving your documents, use your name as the file name.
- Include a subject line that states who you are and what job you are applying for in the email message.
Check the Employer's Instructions
When you apply for jobs via email , the employer may require you to send your resume and cover letter as an attachment to an email message. It's important to send your attachments correctly, to include all the information you need so your email message is opened and read, and to let the receiver know how they can contact you to schedule an interview.
What's most important is to follow the employer's instructions and send exactly what they have asked for in the format it's requested. If you don't, your message may end up in a spam or trash folder.
Save Your Cover Letter and Resume
When sending your cover letter and resume attachments, the first step is to save your resume as a PDF or a Word document . The job posting should specify how to send the attachment. This way, the receiver will get a copy of the resume in the original format.
If there aren't instructions on how to send your documents, submit your resume as either a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx) or as a PDF file. These are the formats most commonly preferred by employers, and it's easy to save the documents and add them as attachments to your email message.
You can either save your cover letter in document format or write it directly in the email message.
Save as a Word Document
If you have word processing software other than Microsoft Word, save your resume as a Word (.doc or .docx) document. File > Save As , should be an option in your program.
Save a Google Doc as a Word Document
If you don't have Microsoft Word, you can save a Word (.docx) version of a Google Doc. Select File > Download and choose Word Document (.docx).
How to Save as a PDF
Whether the employer requests a PDF file or you opt to send a PDF, here's how to convert a document file.
To save a Word document as a PDF:
- Select File > Save As in Microsoft Word.
- Select PDF from the Format drop-down menu.
To save a Google Doc as a PDF:
- Select File > Download and choose PDF Document .
Choose a Unique File Name
When saving your document, use your name as the file name , so the employer knows whose resume and cover letter it is, i.e., janedoeresume.doc and janedoecoverletter.doc.
Don't use "resume" as a file name, because it will be hard to differentiate your resume from those of the other applicants.
Include a Subject in the Email Message
The subject line is one of the most important parts of the email messages you send to apply for jobs. If you don't include one, your message may not even get opened.
Your email message must include a subject line, and it should explain to the reader who you are and what job you are applying for. Be specific, so the recipient knows what he or she is receiving. Employers often hire for many positions at the same time, so include both your name and the job title.
Add a subject to the email message before you start writing it. That way, you won't forget to include it afterward.
Here's what to write:
Subject: Your Name - Job Title
If the employer requests additional information, like a job ID number, be sure to include that too.
Write an Email Message to Send With Your Resume
Once you have saved your resume and cover letter and they are ready to send, the next step is to write an email message to send with your documents.
First, open your email account. Then click on Message at the top left of the screen or click on File > New > Message .
You can either write your cover letter as part of the email message or send it as an attachment. Here's how:
Write Directly in the Email
You can either type your cover letter directly into the email message , copy and paste it from a word processing document, or if the company requests an attachment, send your cover letter and resume with the email message. So, your choices are to send a cover letter attachment or to use the email message as your cover letter.
If you are attaching a cover letter, your email message can be brief. Simply state that your resume and cover letter are attached. Offer to provide additional information and let the reader know how you can be contacted.
Be sure to follow the directions in the job posting for how to apply when sending your cover letter and resume or your application may not be considered.
Adding Your Signature To the Email
It is important to include an email signature with your contact information, so it's easy for hiring managers and recruiters to get in touch with you.
Include your full name, your email address, and your phone number in your email signature, so the hiring manager can see, at a glance, how to contact you. If you have a LinkedIn profile , include it in your signature. Do the same with any other social media accounts you use for career and business purposes.
Sample Email Signature
Jared Harshbarner email@example.com 617-123-3790 linkedin.com/in/jared.harshbarner
How To Add Your Signature
To add your signature to your email message, click on File > Insert > Signature , if you have a signature saved that you use for job searching. If you haven't created an email signature, type your contact information (name, email address, phone, LinkedIn) at the bottom of your message.
Attach Your Resume and Cover Letter to an Email Message
Once your email message is ready to send, you need to attach your resume and cover letter to your message:
Click on Insert > Attach File. Your email client will display a list of files in the default file folder of your computer. If your resume and cover letter are stored in a different folder, click on the appropriate folder.
Click to select the file you want to add to your email message , and then click on Insert to attach the document to your email message. Take the time to carefully proofread the message before you send it.
Before you click Send , send the message to yourself to be sure all the attachments come through, and your email message is perfect.
Send a copy of the message to yourself, as well as to the company, so you have a copy for your records. Add yourself as a Bcc (blind carbon copy) by clicking Bcc and adding your email address.
Then click Send , and your cover letter and your resume will be on their way to the employer.
Review a Sample Email Message
Here's a sample email message sent with resume and cover letter attachments to apply for a job.
Subject: Sarah Smith – Museum Docent
Dear Ms. Cooper,
I’m writing to apply for the summer docent program at the Museum of Local History.
I have extensive docent experience, having volunteered at both the Harbor Museum and ABC Art, and have led tours both as a student leader and a member of the town historical society. In addition, I’m a lifelong town resident and an enthusiastic amateur historian.
I’ve attached my cover letter and resume for your review. I hope you’ll contact me at your convenience to discuss the program and arrange an interview. Thank you for your time.
Sarah Smith firstname.lastname@example.org 555-555-1234 linkedin.com/in/sarahsmith
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it better to send a word document or a pdf to apply for a job.
A PDF file retains the format of your resume and letter, so the recipient will see them as you wrote them when they open the file(s) you send. A Word document is easily read by the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that employers use to manage job applications. What's most important is to follow the company's application guidelines.
How can I be sure my documents are formatted correctly?
Send a test message, and email your resume and cover letter to yourself before you send it to the employer. That way, you'll know your documents are formatted and attached correctly.
ZipJob. “ Resume PDF or Word: The Best File Format in 2022 ."
Google. " Create, View, or Download a File ."
Microsoft. " Save or Convert to PDF or XPS in Office Desktop Apps ."
Adobe. " How to Convert a Google Doc to a PDF ."
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
- Side Hustles
- Power Players
- Young Success
- Save and Invest
- Become Debt-Free
- Land the Job
- Closing the Gap
- Science of Success
- Pop Culture and Media
- Psychology and Relationships
- Health and Wellness
- Real Estate
- Most Popular
- Land the Job Don’t use LinkedIn's ‘open to work’ sign, says former Google recruiter
- Land the Job The 3 worst ways I've messed up in job interviews—and how to avoid my mistakes
- Work Psychologist Adam Grant on the 'amazing' cover letter he remembers years later
- Land the Job The No. 1 question to ask in a job interview, according to ex-Google recruiter
- Land the Job The top 3 things recruiters always look for on your resume
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.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!
- 6 common body language mistakes to avoid in your next job interview
- How to answer the 7 most annoying job interview questions (and spot 2 that are illegal to ask)
- Want a job at Google or Amazon? These 4 (little-known) resume tricks can help you get hired
Should I Attach A Cover Letter Or Write It In The Email
Should I attach a cover letter or write it in the email?
Upload & check your resume.
Drop your resume here or choose a file . PDF & DOCX only. Max 2MB file size.
It's best to include a cover letter as a separate attachment in PDF format and also write a brief introduction in the body of the email highlighting your interest in the position and the attached cover letter. This way, the hiring manager can easily see both your email and cover letter in one place and it can also help to ensure that your formatting remains intact.
How to Accept a Job Offer Professionally
What Should You Name Your Cover Letter File
How to Put Cum Laude on Your Resume
Marketing Director Interview Questions & Answers: A Stress-Free Guide
Choose your employer, don't let the employer choose you
Should You Add Unrelated Work Experience on Your Resume?
- Create Resume
- Terms of Service
- HTML Sitemap
- Resume Examples
- Resume Templates
- Resume Formats
- Resume Checker
- Resume Skills
- How to Write a Resume
- Modern Resume Templates
- Simple Resume Templates
- Cover Letter Builder
- Cover Letter Examples
- Cover Letter Templates
- Cover Letter Formats
- How to Write a Cover Letter
- Resume Guides
- Cover Letter Guides
- Job Interview Guides
- Job Interview Questions
- Career Resources
- Meet our customers
- Career resources
- English (UK)
- French (FR)
- Swedish (SE)
© 2023 . All rights reserved.
Made with love by people who care.