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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.

[Featured image] A young man in glasses and a burnt orange sweater sits in front of his desktop computer. There's a chalkboard in the background with lots of writing on it.

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.

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 .  

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

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

Get started

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. 

Article sources

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. 

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  • Ask Amanda: Do I Really Need...

Ask Amanda: Do I Really Need a Cover Letter?

3 min read · Updated on March 10, 2022

Amanda Augustine

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.

Final thoughts

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 .

Recommended Reading:

10 of the Worst Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

Ask Amanda: How Do I Mention Relocation in My Cover Letter?

9 Cliches to Cut From Your Cover Letter Right Now

Related Articles:

8 Tips to Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

There's Nothing Wrong With Having a Gap Between Jobs

7 Signs Your Resume is Making You Look Old

See how your resume stacks up.

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Do I Need a Cover Letter in 2024? Are Cover Letters Mandatory?

Background Image

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.

Here’s why:

  • 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.”

job search masterclass novoresume

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 !  


Key Takeaways

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.

Related Readings: 

  • How to Start a Cover Letter
  • How to End a Cover Letter
  • How to Address a Cover Letter

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When Are Cover Letters Necessary (With Examples)

  • How To Write A Cover Letter
  • When Is A Cover Letter Necessary
  • Free Cover Letter Templates
  • Cover Letter Mistakes To Avoid
  • Cover Letter Tips
  • How To Sell Yourself In A Cover Letter

Find a Job You Really Want In

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

is having a cover letter necessary

When a Cover Letter Is Important

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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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.

How to write a cover letter

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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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.

Are Cover Letters Necessary? Do You Need One in 2023?

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!

Cover letter and employer statistics

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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Is a Cover Letter Necessary to Apply for a Job?

When You Need to Submit a Cover Letter With a Resume

is having a cover letter necessary

(Almost) Always Send a Cover Letter

When not to send a cover letter, cover letter writing tips, how to format the letter, proofread and test before you submit.

Do you really need a cover letter when you apply for jobs? You might wonder whether you can get by with just a resume — particularly if the company doesn't specifically  request or require a cover letter .

It's only natural to wonder if a cover letter is necessary. After all, writing cover letters can be a time-consuming and challenging task. If there's an option to skip the labor involved in writing one, it's tempting.

But in most cases, and particularly when the overall job market or your specific industry is competitive, a cover letter will help your candidacy. Done right, your letter will highlight your most relevant  skills and qualifications  for the job, making you stand out in a sea of applicants.

Your cover letter is a good way to show an employer what you want them to know about you, without the hiring manager having to figure it out themselves from your resume.

Many career experts agree that sending a cover letter is almost always the best decision. 

Use Your Letter to Make a Match

For instance, Susan Heathfield , a human resources expert, says, "Your cover letter is particularly important. It's the job searcher's opportunity to help the potential employer see that the applicant's skills and experience match what the employer seeks. A well-written cover letter distinguishes your application."

Show Why You're a Strong Candidate

A cover letter can make a good impression on a prospective employer and is an excellent way to show that employer why you are a strong candidate for the job.  Resumes are helpful for giving an overview of your career , but a cover letter can tell a story about specific, relevant experience. They're also a chance to  show off your personality .

Explain Potential Issues

Cover letters also provide a useful way to explain away any potential concerns the employer might have about your candidacy, such as  gaps in your employment  or the fact that you will need to relocate for the job.

Make the Case for Your Candidacy

A cover letter allows you to write a compelling case for your candidacy. Why would you want to skip this opportunity? Even if a job application does not require a cover letter, you can send one anyway.

Often, employers expect a cover letter even if they do not directly ask for one. Sending one, particularly when it is not required, demonstrates that you are a motivated candidate.

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.

If you're applying online for a job and there is no way to upload or post a cover letter, don't worry about it. You don't need one.

When the employer specifically states what they want in a job application (resume, references, etc.), you don't have to write a cover letter if it is not included on the employer's list.

However, you may want to include an abbreviated  email cover letter  if there’s space to do so. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your pitch and impress the hiring manager.

Make sure your cover letter is a good one.  While a well-written cover letter may increase your chances of getting an interview, the opposite is also true. A poorly written cover letter will likely cause an employer to reject your application. Therefore, only send one if you have the time to write a clear, concise, and professional letter that makes a strong sales pitch for getting an interview.

Write a  targeted cover letter  that specifically relates your experience to the job posting.  Keep it short and sweet — aim for three to five paragraphs — with each paragraph focusing on an aspect of your candidacy. Read the job description carefully, so you can make sure your  cover letter really speaks to the requested qualifications . Bottom line, you want to make it clear why you'd be beneficial to the company in the position.

Review cover letter samples.  Before you start, look at some  cover letter examples  to get ideas for your own letters. While you don’t want to copy samples, reading them helps reveal what kind of tone is appropriate. Plus, you might discover a better way to emphasize your experience.

Format your cover letter correctly.  Familiarize yourself with  cover lettering formatting guidelines  and make sure that your materials meet these standards. Hiring managers will notice if you don’t follow these rules.

You want your experience to stand out, not your formatting or style choices. Keep it simple and let your skills shine through.

Be sure to edit your cover letter thoroughly. Typos and grammatical errors will demonstrate a sloppy work ethic to the employer. Review proofreading tips to remind yourself of what to watch out for. A few examples of common cover letter typos and mistakes: misspelled names of companies or interviewers, incorrect addresses, and inconsistent verb tenses and/or punctuation.

When you’re finished reviewing your final document, have a friend take a look as well. A fresh set of eyes may catch mistakes that you’re no longer able to see. Even the smallest error can work against you during the job application process, so take the time to get it right. 

is having a cover letter necessary

Are Cover Letters Necessary?

Do cover letters matter these days? It depends on who you ask.

Some recruiters love learning more about each job applicant, while others find the practice antiquated. So should you write one if it might not even be read at all?

Keep reading for advice from career coaching experts, plus:

  • When you should (and shouldn't) write a cover letter
  • What to do when a cover letter is "optional"
  • Tips for writing an effective cover letter
  • What an effective cover letter template looks like

Do I Need a Cover Letter ?

In most cases, yes—you should submit a cover letter with your resume.

While the cover letter has increasingly become a divisive topic among recruiters and job seekers , it's still often listed as a requirement on job applications .

But regardless, many recruiters still think cover letters are important.

According to a 2023 study by recruitment website Zippia , more than a fourth (26 percent) of recruiters "always read cover letters " and think they're an important component of the hiring decision. And almost half (45 percent) said that not including a cover letter could get your application rejected.

So in most cases, it's best to be cautious and include one.

In short, including a cover letter will almost never hurt your job search —but it can help.

Here's how:

  • It can help you stand out from the crowd . Recruiters read through countless resumes for just one role. If you have similar qualifications as other candidates, a cover letter allows you to showcase your personality and unique skills.
  • It shows you're willing to go the extra mile . Searching for a new job is already a lot of effort, so it may be difficult to rationalize writing a customized cover letter for each role. But the Zippia study found that 61 percent of hiring managers consider a customized resume (with a cover letter, portfolio link, etc.) the "number one tactic for applicants to boost their chances of getting a job."
  • You can address potential biases . In a perfect world, recruiters wouldn't count you out based on things like employment gaps or " job hopping ." Career coach Marlo Lyons recommends using your cover letter to "fill in any gaps" and provide context about these types of situations so recruiters don't get the wrong impression.

When You Should Include a Cover Letter

It's ultimately up to you whether you include a cover letter.

Octavia Goredema, career coach and author of Prep, Push, Pivot , says that the decision to submit a cover letter hinges on "where you are in your career journey and your personal career goals."

In addition to when it's a required part of the job posting, here are scenarios where it's in your best interest to submit one:

  • If someone referred you to the job : According to Goredema, "If you were referred to an opportunity by someone at the company or have a personal history that correlates with the role, a cover letter enables you to share that."
  • If you want to add additional information : Say the job you're applying to requires candidates to live on a specific coast. If you don't currently live in the area but are willing to relocate, mention that in your cover letter so you aren't automatically rejected based on your current location.
  • If you're changing careers : Goredema recommends writing one "if you're in the early stages of your career or making a professional pivot. A cover letter provides the opportunity to add additional context to the information included in your resume."
  • If you don't have any previous work experience : If you're new to the workforce, you may not have any applicable previous positions to include on your resume. Use your cover letter to highlight transferrable skills and explain why you think you'd still be a good fit.

Lastly, Goredema suggests that "if this is your dream job, a cover letter provides the space for you to explain with impact and highlight what you do best."

Debra Boggs, founder and CEO of D&S Executive Career Management, adds: "As long as a cover letter is well-written and error-free, it will never hurt your chances of winning an interview."

So the more important the role is to you, the more effort you should put in.

When You Shouldn't Include a Cover Letter

There are certainly times when you should send a cover letter with your resume—but are there times when you shouldn't send one in? Here are a few instances:

  • If the application platform doesn't have a space to upload one : If there isn't a space for you to attach your cover letter or other supporting documents, don't sweat it. This means that other applicants won't be able to send one either.
  • If the job posting doesn't require one : If the post specifically states that you shouldn't include a cover letter, it's not a trick. The recruiter likely doesn't plan to read it, so it's best to reserve your time for other job search activities .
  • If you aren't a strong writer : Lyons recommends forgoing a cover letter if you aren't a good writer and don't have anyone to help you. "The cover letter could be your first impression, and a badly written one—especially with grammatical errors—could make recruiters not want to screen you for the job."
  • If you don't have time : Strapped for time? Goredema suggests "[focusing] on your resume and the application requirements versus haphazardly throwing together a few sentences just to meet an application deadline."

What To Do When a Cover Letter is 'Optional'

"Optional" cover letters can feel like a trick. You want to show the recruiter you're interested in the role, but you don't want to waste your time if it isn't necessary.

Lyons recommends skipping the optional cover letter "if your resume and LinkedIn profile are complete and no further explanation is needed."

However, it can be helpful to write one if "your resume doesn't tell the whole story about you." (Think resume gaps or career changes.)

Goredema believes it can be helpful to include a cover letter, regardless of whether it's a requirement. "Why not take the opportunity? It may help you to stand out. Going the extra mile by sending a well-written, personalized cover letter can only work to your advantage versus working against you."

So it can be helpful to put in extra effort if you have more to add to your application. But you shouldn't include a subpar cover letter just for the sake of it.

7 Tips for Writing an Effective Cover Letter

Regardless of your feelings toward the now-controversial cover letter, you'll likely find yourself writing one for at least some of the jobs you apply to.

Here's how to draft one that actually grabs a recruiter's attention:

1. Keep Things Short

Lyons suggests writing "three to four paragraphs at most, with two to three sentences in each paragraph."

Goredema adds: "Avoid long rambling sentences and keep your letter concise to make it easy to read."

Even if a particular recruiter loves cover letters, they might sift through hundreds of applications to find the right candidates. So it's best to be brief.

2. Follow the Rules

Some recruiters will ask you to include a portfolio link, send the cover letter via email, ask you to answer specific questions, etc. Be sure to fully read the job post's requirements—you don't want to be counted out for failing to follow directions.

3. Don't Repeat Your Resume

Lyons cautions repeating information the recruiter already has access to. Instead, "Tell the story of you—something important that you did not cover on your resume and how that story connects to the current position."

Think of it as connecting the dots between your experience, skills and capabilities. Explain why you'd be a good fit for the role rather than repeating the skills section of your resume .

4. Use Active Voice and Action Verbs

With active voice, the subject of a sentence performs the action. Passive voice puts more emphasis on the object of the sentence.

Using active voice is more direct and straightforward. Plus, it helps keep things brief.

Aim to use active voice throughout your resume and cover letter. This will help you sound clear and confident.

Here's an example of passive voice, plus how to fix it to use active voice:

  • Passive voice : The treats were eaten by the dogs.
  • Active voice : The dogs ate the treats.

If you struggle with writing in active voice consistently, think about the action verbs you'd use to describe your skills and experiences.

For example, instead of "I was tasked with x," you could say, "I managed x."

5. Be Specific

Include specific examples (i.e., instead of "I'm a team player," allude to a situation where you were a team player). If you've ever taken a writing course, you've probably heard the advice "show don't tell." The same advice applies to your resume and cover letter.

You could say "I have marketing experience," but what does that communicate to the reader? Not much.

Be specific about your experience and accomplishments. Instead, say "I led a marketing campaign that increased quarterly newsletter sign-ups by 40%."

6. Proofread

Check your cover letter for grammar and spelling mistakes before submitting it to avoid a professional faux pas.

Use spellcheck or an external app like Grammarly, which is also compatible with web browsers.

7. Customize It

At best, a generic cover letter is boring or a little awkward. At worst, it can be unprofessional if what you wrote about has nothing to do with the job you're applying for.

Think about it this way: your cover letter might be the deciding factor between you and another candidate with the same skills and experience. So you want to grab the recruiter's attention.

You don't need to spend tons of time rewriting your cover letter for every job application, though. Here are a few things you can do to stand out:

  • Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name (you can sometimes find this information on the LinkedIn job post)
  • Include the company name and job title
  • Mention what you like about the specific company and its culture
  • Detail skills and experience specifically mentioned on the job post

Boggs advises to "create a template that you can easily customize to include the relevant skills and experience for each job and employer."

Read on for inspiration for your own template.

Cover Letter Template

It can be time-consuming to write a new cover letter for every job application. Here's a template you can customize for different positions:

Dear [name of recruiter, "hiring manager"] , I saw the job posting for [exact title of role] and am excited about the opportunity. [1-2 sentences detailing why you're interested in the role/company.] In my previous role, [brief description of your accomplishments beyond what your resume states.] I also have [1-2 sentences detailing relevant experience, including specific skills and level of proficiency.] [If applicable: include a short paragraph with a link to your portfolio or any other relevant links.] Thank you for your time—if you'd like to schedule an interview, please feel free to contact me [brief description of the best time and method for contact.] Sincerely, [Your Name] [Phone Number] [Email]

Cover Letter FAQs

Still wondering if you need a cover letter for your specific situation? Or if recruiters actually read every cover letter? Read on for answers.

Do I Need a Cover Letter for a Part-Time Job?

The same advice applies to part-time jobs—cover letters aren't always necessary, but they can help you stand out. If you're especially interested in a part-time role, it's a good idea to submit a cover letter.

Do I Need a Cover Letter for an Internship?

Many people who apply for internships don't have significant prior work experience, so a cover letter is especially helpful here.

Instead of previous jobs, you can talk about:

  • Your education
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Transferrable skills
  • Volunteer experience

You can include similar points if you're looking for an entry-level job and don't have prior work experience.

Can I Use AI To Write a Cover Letter?

Proceed with caution when using ChatGPT or a similar tool to write content for you. Employers may be using AI content detectors to identify which candidates used a shortcut.

AI programs like ChatGPT create content based on their existing libraries, so content is never really "new." Meaning it's impossible to tell if you're accidentally plagiarizing someone unless you heavily edit the chatbot's answers.

Goredema points out a potential pitfall in relying too heavily on AI: "If your goal is to get an interview, you don't want there to be a huge gap between how you communicate on paper versus how you communicate in person ."

Here are a few ways you can use AI to add to the writing process :

  • Checking for active voice
  • Adding action verbs
  • Creating a rough draft
  • Checking your writing tone

Do Recruiters Actually Read Your Cover Letter?

The big question—is the effort behind your cover letter worth it? Again, there's no perfect answer.

The most important thing is to ensure hiring managers have all the information they need to fairly consider you for a position.

Boggs cautions: "Remember, not all recruiters and hiring managers read cover letters, so

make sure to include all your relevant qualifications and accomplishments

in your resume as well, so these details don't get missed."

But there are other creative ways to stand out apart from a cover letter.

According to Goredema, "The general feedback I hear from the recruiters I work with is that a resume accompanied by their LinkedIn profile supersedes a cover letter because they will tell a recruiter at first glance what they need to know about a candidate."

So, are cover letters really necessary these days?

Lyons says that recruiters primarily care about two things:

  • "Does an applicant have the skills and capabilities to do the job?"
  • "Will the applicant fit the culture of the team and the company?"

Cover letters can help you stand out among a sea of applicants or explain difficult job situations—so in most cases, it's helpful to include one with your resume.

But whether you decide to send a cover letter with your resume or not, be sure the recruiter has all the information they need to be confident about you and your experience.

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Eller College of Management | Home

How To Write a Cover Letter With Examples

Cover Letter Do's and Dont's

Cover letters can help differentiate you from other job applicants and be the determining factor of landing your dream job. By taking the time to craft a custom cover letter, a single sheet of paper can help communicate all the human elements that a resume may fall short of capturing about yourself. 

But what do employers and recruiters have to say about how to write a cover letter? What are the best tips they have to offer for graduate students who are writing a cover letter?

We asked 11 employers for their best cover letter tips. Here is what they had to share.

Let it Set the Stage

In many ways, cover letters should provide background information and context to your resume, while simultaneously addressing how that resume addresses the specific requirements of the job opportunity. The cover letter is your opportunity to "set the stage" and to convince the hiring manager why your specific set of skills, experiences and interests will provide value to their team and its objectives.

Andrew Horrigan '11 BSBA (Management Information Systems), Product Manager at Cisco

Research the Hiring Manager

If possible, find out who the hiring manager is and look them up on LinkedIn. Do your research on the company you're applying for. What's their mission statement and how do they portray their company culture? Hopefully what you're looking for in a job is reflected by those things. Make sure the hiring manager knows that and understands who you are and what drives you. A resume is often about as robotic as things can be. Make sure your cover letter is the opposite—personalize it and let yourself shine through.

Joshua Schlag ’05 BS (Computer Science) ’11 MBA, Digital Marketing Manager at Pyramid Analytics

Utilize Career Development Resources

The University of Arizona and Eller College of Management go to great lengths to make sure students are prepared for their impending career journey. Because cover letters are so important to getting your foot in the door, there are several career development resources online and on campus to take advantage of. The university’s cover letter builder serves as a nice template to get started. And of course, it never hurts to make an appointment with an Eller Career Coach through eSMS to have a professional review your letter before submission. 

Brett Farmiloe, ’06 BSBA (Accounting), Founder, Featured

Discover Past Samples of the Position

Do your research on the company and personalize your cover letter to the role for which you are applying. Don't be afraid to Google, "How to write a good cover letter for X position." Seriously, it helps! There is so much information out there from various perspectives—applicants, hiring managers, etc. Most importantly be yourself and let your personality come through. And don't forget to spell check!

Mariam Nikola '17 MS MIS, Consultant at Point B

Highlight Your Soft Skills

When writing a professional cover letter, there are a couple things you can do to set yourself apart from the pack. First, make sure you tailor your letter to the specific position you are applying for. This should not be a general, "one size fits all" letter—be sure to discuss specific details surrounding the role or the company itself. Secondly, this is an opportunity for you to show a little bit of your personality. Obviously, you want to remain professional, but this is a great time to highlight some of your soft skills that might not be fully conveyed through your resume.  

Brian Ellis ’17 BSBA (Management), Staffing Manager at Randstad Office and Administrative Professionals

Fill in the “Why” Gaps

As a talent advisor, I review a lot of applicants and agree that a cover letter can be a great way to stand apart, if it is done correctly. A great cover letter for me covers the ‘why’ that I cannot understand from just a resume alone. It should clearly state why you are interested in the role, what your goals are for utilizing your graduate degree (if recently graduated) and explain any career pivots reflected on your resume. If you answer those questions in a direct, concise manner it will add value to your application.

Monica Larson , ’11 BSBA (Marketing) ‘20 MBA, Talent Advisor

Tell Your Story

A cover letter is your opportunity to tell your story—tying your experience and personal interests into why you want a position and why you are the best candidate for it. Paint the picture of your journey and what about the position excites you personally and professionally. Similar to your resume, keep it short and sweet. No need to repeat what’s already on your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t have time to comb through a novel, so you need to engage them with as few words as possible while also grabbing their attention.

Kelly Castoro, ’06 BA (Spanish, Portuguese), Project Manager at Squarespace

Tailor Each Cover Letter to the Position You Are Applying

Be sure to research the role and customize your cover letter for each position, relating your experience to the particular role you are applying for. Personalization is key—research who you are sending the cover letter to and address the letter to them directly. End your letter with a call to action, stating you will follow up by phone or email if you haven’t heard from anyone. Follow ups are very important! 

Jessica Rosenzweig, ’15 BSBA (Business Management), Account Manager at PeopleWare Staffing

Communicate Bankability and Personality 

Your cover letter answers two crucial questions; are you bankable and are you someone the company will enjoy working with? Communicate bankability with your knowledge of the company, industry and why your skills, capabilities and interests are a great fit. Share your passion for their mission, culture, brand—whatever excites you about becoming a member of their team.  

When conveyed through a concise, well-formulated, well-worded cover letter, you demonstrate the ability to write an effective business case—communicating that you are a ready professional and worthy teammate who will hit the ground running.

Theresa L Garcia, ’83 BSBA (Human Resources), Senior Change Management and Organization Capability Consultant at Boeing

Keep it Concise but Compelling

A cover letter is your chance to speak directly to the hiring team and tell them why you are not only the best match for the position for which you are applying but also give them additional insight into yourself as an individual that is less visible from your experience.

A great cover letter should be attention grabbing and touch upon the qualities that make you stand out from others in the applicant pool, highlight both your recent and most distinguished accomplishments and drive home why you are the right person for the job. Professionalism is always important, but don’t be hesitant to put your voice into the letter to let your personality shine through. Research the company, understand where they currently are, where they are going and show why you are the right person to get them from point A to point B. Recruiters spend a lot of time reviewing applicants and making yourself stand apart from the crowd is key. Keep it concise but compelling!

Matt Reineberg, ’14 BSBA (Marketing), Senior Talent Acquisition Sourcer at Cox Enterprises

Highlight the “Why”

Why are you applying to this company? Why do you want this position? Your cover letter should aim to answer the why behind applying for the job. Conveying an interest and excitement for working specifically for this job at this company, rather than a desire to get any job anywhere that will give you money, can go a long way. Show the company that they should hire you and your passion over someone that might have the skills needed for the job, but doesn’t care about the work as much as you do. 

Ryan Nouis, Trupath 

Ready to Learn More?

What to Know About Donald Trump’s New $60 Bible

“all americans need a bible in their home, and i have many. it’s my favorite book.”.

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A simple collage of Donald Trump holding a bible in front of white dollar signs.

Mother Jones illustration; Shealah Craighead/White House/ZUMA

One month after releasing a line of gilded high-tops for $399, Donald Trump revealed on Tuesday a new item: the Bible. “All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have many,” the former president explained in a video promoting the country singer Lee Greenwood’s version of a King James translation, the “God Bless the USA Bible.”

“It’s my favorite book,” Trump added.

Throughout the rest of the clip, as if daring us into a collective disgust, Trump swerved through random opportunities to rail against bureaucrats and a country under threat—all while hawking a holy text.

But his latest sales pitch also prompted some legitimate questions. Such as: What the hell is going on? And: Excuse me? Here, we try to answer some of the queries.

So, that first question—what the hell—but more formally: What exactly is Trump promoting and how much will it cost me to shell out for this? 

Trump is encouraging his supporters to buy a Bible endorsed by himself and Lee Greenwood. It costs $59.99, without taxes or shipping included. That seems to sit on the more expensive end of Bibles on sale at Barnes & Noble . But those books presumably don’t include copies of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the handwritten lyrics to the chorus of Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA.”

The “God Bless the USA Bible” does include these items .

Trump is in a serious cash crunch . So is he going to make money with this Bible?

According to the book’s official site , the God Bless the USA Bible has nothing to do with Trump’s campaign. It is “not owned, managed, or controlled by Donald J. Trump, The Trump Organization, CIC Ventures LLC, or any of their respective principals or affiliates.” Instead, Trump’s “name, likeness, and image” are being used “under paid license from CIC Ventures LLC.”

Wait, what is CIC Ventures LLC, though?

Okay, so CIC Ventures LLC is, according to the  Washington Post , basically a pipeline to Trump:

In [Trump’s] financial disclosure released last year, he’s identified as the [CIC Ventures LLC’s] “manager, president, secretary and treasurer” and the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is identified as a 100 percent owner of the business. The same entity also receives royalties from his book “A MAGA Journey” and speaking engagements.

In case it’s not already obvious: if you look at the company’s documents, you’ll find the principal address for CIC Ventures LLC is 3505 Summit Boulevard, West Palm Beach, Florida. That is a Trump golf course . Moreover, in a 2022 disclosure, Nick Luna is listed as a manager. Luna was Trump’s personal assistant and body man.

So, I’m sorry, but let me ask again: Is Trump making money off this?

The New York Times reports that “according to a person familiar” (classic) Trump will receive royalties from sales.

You could have just said that.

I wanted to tell you about the other stuff I found. Any other questions?

Yes. Who is Lee Greenwood?

The country singer who wrote “God Bless the USA.” Greenwood is a fierce MAGA guy who otherwise made news after pulling out of an NRA concert in response to the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting.

Does Greenwood have a Christmas album with an oddly sexual cover?

Yes. Look at this .

Perfect sweater. Anyway, I feel like I’m experiencing deja vu. Hasn’t Trump made headlines before with a Bible?

You’re probably recalling that despicable photo-op when Trump held up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church, which had been a location of racial justice protests in the days prior. There was a complicated saga, afterward, about whether or not Trump deployed the police to clear protesters to get to the church. An Inspector General’s report ultimately concluded that he did not.  

Man, it’s pretty rough remembering all the awful shit we went through with him as president.

Yep. If you ever want to wallow in political depression, check out this quick compilation .

But wait. Wasn’t there another time Trump and the Bible made waves for something far more stupid?

Christian nationalists adore Trump, so there have probably been many times that Trump has referenced the Bible. But you might also be thinking of this incredible clip of Trump attempting to name his favorite verse .

Has a presidential candidate ever partnered on a holy text sale with a country musician?

Not to my knowledge. But this is from a dude who just last week seemed to compare his current legal jeopardy with the persecution of Jesus Christ. Happy Easter!

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Florida voters will decide whether to protect abortion rights and legalize pot in November

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Lisa's journalism career spans two decades, and she currently serves as the Americas Day Editor for the Global News Desk. She played a pivotal role in tracking the COVID pandemic and leading initiatives in speed, headline writing and multimedia. She has worked closely with the finance and company news teams on major stories, such as the departures of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and significant developments at Apple, Alphabet, Facebook and Tesla. Her dedication and hard work have been recognized with the 2010 Desk Editor of the Year award and a Journalist of the Year nomination in 2020. Lisa is passionate about visual and long-form storytelling. She holds a degree in both psychology and journalism from Penn State University.

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Medicare plans can now cover Wegovy for patients at risk of heart disease

Yuki Noguchi

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Carmel Wroth, photographed for NPR, 22 January 2020, in Washington DC.

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Wegovy, a semaglutide medication, will be covered by Medicare. George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

Wegovy, a semaglutide medication, will be covered by Medicare.

For the first time, Medicare will allow coverage of one of the new blockbuster weight-loss drugs for enrollees in Part D plans.

The plans may now cover Wegovy when prescribed to prevent heart attacks and strokes, according to a new policy issued this week from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Wegovy is a GLP-1 agonist, a class of obesity drugs promising a sea change in weight loss. They act on hormones and the brain to drastically reduce appetite, among other things.

But Medicare is prohibited from paying for weight-loss treatments so seniors have had to pay out of pocket for the drugs or use supplemental insurance. In early March, the Food and Drug Administration expanded the approval of Wegovy to say the drug can be used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke in people with cardiovascular disease and either overweight or obesity.

In clinical trials, Wegovy was found to reduce risks of cardiovascular events by 20% in higher weight patients.

That finding prompted CMS to change its Medicare Part D drug program to cover Wegovy, although it noted that this applies only for those patients struggling with both weight and heart disease. In other words, the injections, which can cost well over $1,000 a month out of pocket, will not be covered for enrollees only seeking to lose weight.

The new guidance also applies to state Medicaid plans, which also would be required to cover Wegovy for patients with both higher weight and heart disease risk.

Obesity doctor Angela Fitch says that the move to cover it even for a limited subset of patients is still significant. She's president of the Obesity Medicine Association, a group that advocates for treatment.

"It's certainly a big step forward, compared to no coverage at all," she says. "At least now we'll have coverage for those people who have a known history of heart disease," she says. "So hopefully that will trickle down into covering it for everybody with overweight and obesity."

And, Fitch notes, Medicare sets the standard for coverage in insurance generally, so this move could ultimately affect more patients. "My hope would be that commercial insurance would follow."

In a statement, a CMS spokesperson said: "CMS is committed to ensuring that people have access to treatments and treatment options that improve health outcomes."

The Medicare guidance could also expand the use of other similar medicines. It states that anti-obesity medications that receive FDA approval for an additional condition other than weight-management alone, can be considered a Part D drug for that specific use. For example, if one of the drugs receives FDA approval to treat diabetes or prevent cardiovascular disease, Medicare part D plans may cover it for that use.

However CMS specified they may also require prior authorizations to ensure that is being used only for the approved use.

In a statement, Wegovy's maker Novo Nordisk said it was "encouraged" by the new guidance from CMS but said it hopes to see Part D coverage expanded for "obesity medicines when used for chronic weight management."

The drug maker is among those pushing for Congress to expand coverage of treatments for obesity.

  • semaglutide
  • heart disease


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