The way job applications are constructed in 2023, you need a cover letter almost always. Recruiters and hiring managers often overlook your cover letter, but they absolutely will if you are on the fence about an interview. Just about any job that asks for a cover letter needs one. The cover letter shows the company that you are willing to put in extra effort for their application. As long as you (and you should) customize your cover letter for each job position, they know you took the time to optimize your cover letter and resume.
Let’s get into the cases when you don’t need to submit a cover letter and when you need to double down and submit an extraordinary cover letter.
Cases when a cover letter is unnecessary
There are two major cases when you do not need a cover letter. These are important because jobs that don’t require them (as long as they also don’t require other unique application materials) are the only ones that let you mass apply. Today’s job climate requires applicants to send out an egregious amount of applications to receive interviews and offers. Even though there’s only a small chance when it’s not a part of the application, the haste with which you can apply is a tremendous boon. Let’s look at the two cases where a cover letter is unnecessary.
1. Not part of the job application
This is self-explanatory. Some jobs don’t want one. Let these be ones where the application only takes a few seconds, and you can move on to the next. The mass applications are perfect for jobs like this.
2. You don’t have time to customize your letter for the application
Rushing job applications generally ends poorly. If you don’t have time to customize the letter for an application and the hiring manager takes the time to look at it – you’re sunk. If you are in a position where you want to apply for a certain position but don’t have enough time to write a good cover letter, you are better off submitting your application without one.
The window to apply for jobs is small. If you’re out of time or lack the juice, sending out an incomplete application that only takes a minute or so can be better than letting the job fall by the wayside.
Signs it is time to write an extraordinary cover letter
Sometimes you’re applying for a job and submit your minimum value product, which is okay. Let’s look at a few moments when writing an exceptional cover letter is worth every minute.
- You have important information. Some of these can be recycled, like a career change, work gap, or something else you need to explain that doesn’t fit on your resume. Your cover letter is an excellent place to explain it.
- A company referral. You want to push this as far as you can. Have it in your resume, the notes section of your application, and your cover letter. If there’s any other pertinent information, this is the place to add it.
- You’ve worked at the company before. Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door at a company, but sometimes you don’t turn straight around and keep working there. If that’s the case, shout out any link to the company in your cover letter. This can only help!
- Last but not least – it is your dream job. Use the space to explain why you want to work here more than any other company. How you will thrive working there and do your best work. This true passion will set you apart.
Recycling your cover letter
You should customize your letter for every job application, but that doesn’t mean you need to start it from scratch. Cover letters follow the same format most of the time, where you start with an intro, go into qualifications, then values, then conclude it with a call to action. The bulk of your letters can stay the same, but the pieces you should change make a huge impact. Try to tailor it to the specific job description. This could be changing up the specifics of your qualifications to better match the position or adding a few keywords from the application to your values.
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