Cover letters provide valuable information to recruiters and hiring managers, not only through their content but also knowing that you invested time and effort into writing one.
Job applications with tailored cover letters were 53% more likely to have created an impression and an interview callback than applications with no cover letters. Even generic cover letters were 17% more successful than no cover letters at all.
Cover letters do still matter and they can help you get to the next round in the hiring process.
One of the biggest takeaways was that tailored cover letters are far superior to generic cover letters when it comes to boosting a job applicant’s chances of being hired. Tailoring a cover letter doesn’t necessarily mean starting from scratch each time. You’re likely applying to a lot of similar jobs, so you might create a basic template for yourself, but add to it based on the job and company. Keep about 2/3 of your cover letter the same across most positions and customize the remaining 1/3.
When Do You Absolutely Need a Cover Letter?
There are some situations where you should definitely include a cover letter or you’ll greatly increase the risk of being rejected when you otherwise might’ve had a chance. Almost all job advertisement now require you to attach or write a cover letter or even ask you to list the top reasons why you should be considered for this position. You do not want the first message you send a prospective employer to be that you cannot or won’t follow directions.
You might also have some other signal that a cover letter is crucial to a specific role. If you have any special situations surrounding your candidacy or there’s anything on your resume or application that needs additional context to be understood, writing a cover letter is really in your best interest. If there’s something on your resume that might be a red flag to people reading, your cover letter can help change that and keep your application out of the rejection pile.
Your cover letter can contents that not only summarise your experience and key skills but also share insights about personality traits directly linked and important to the job for which you are applying.
According to the experts, some special situations that can be explained by a cover letter include:
Career transitions: If this is going to be your first job in a new of type role or a different industry, or if you’ve followed a non-linear career path, a cover letter can explain why you want this job and how your past experiences / transferable skills have prepared you for it.
Employment gaps: Whether this will be your first job after your employment gap or you have one further back on your resume that you’re worried might raise eyebrows, including a cover letter gives you an opportunity to explain.
Overseas applications: If you’re moving and hoping to secure a job before you get there, you can explain that in a cover letter so hiring managers understand why your application is coming from a different geographic location.
Personal connections to a company or job referrals: If someone in your network referred you to a job or you have another connection to the company, this goes in your cover letter, not on your resume.
Ultimately, it’s up to you whether or not to write a cover letter. In a survey, only 26% of respondents said they “punished” or “deducted points” from candidates who didn’t include a cover letter when the job posting didn’t require one, and in a 2018 survey, it was found that only 45% of respondents had submitted a cover letter for their current or most recent job. So you can definitely get a job without a cover letter. But ask yourself this: Why would you skip out on the chance to make your application even stronger?