Ask a Career Advisor: Do I need to include a cover letter with my job application?

Ask a Career Advisor: Do I Need to Include a Cover Letter With My Job Application?

By Alexia Hasbrouck | February 23, 2021

Whether your job search strategy is to find work fast or to break into a different industry, you're probably applying to many positions to cast a wide net. But after spending hours updating your resume, digging through hundreds of job posts, and researching how to write a cover letter, the application process can start to feel daunting.

With that, it can be easy to convince yourself that including a cover letter with every job application isn't that important. After all, do hiring managers even take the time to read every cover letter that comes their way? Is customizing the cover letter for each different position really the best use of a busy job seeker’s time?

In short, the answer is a resounding "yes," according to iHire Career Advisor, Lori Cole.

“When in doubt, you should always include a cover letter with your job application,” Cole said. “Even if it’s short and sweet, your cover letter will help you stand out and earn more interviews.”

For further insights into value of cover letters, we recently surveyed 603 hiring professionals from companies across 56 industries. Our survey results showed that 76.5% of respondents said they “always” read the cover letter if the candidate includes one.

Employer reviewing a cover letter.

That being said, why not use your cover letter as an opportunity to set yourself apart in this competitive job market? It is your chance to highlight your most relevant (or transferrable) skills and experience, show professionalism and personality, and spark a connection with your potential new employer.

Now that we know most cover letters are read by hiring managers, the question remains: Is it essential to include one with every application?

In today's world, cover letters have become something employers expect. Not taking the time to send one along with your job application can potentially hinder your chances of landing an interview. Our “Value of a Cover Letter” survey found that 65.3% of hiring professionals and recruiters still believe cover letters are an essential part of their recruitment process. In fact, 30.4% said they expect to receive a cover letter even if their job posting says it is optional. These statistics alone are reassurance that including one with every application is worthwhile.

 

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Another critical thing to remember is that the same cover letter probably won't work for every position you wish to apply for. Our survey also showed that 77.3% of employers want candidates to customize their cover letters for the specific position. A generic list of skills and experience in paragraph form simply will not do. Reworking your cover letter to include your talents and how they relate to the job's clear-cut requirements can help hiring managers connect the dots. In turn, asking you for an interview becomes a no-brainer.

When looking for new opportunities, time is of the essence. Don't put yourself at risk for wasting time getting "glossed over" by hiring managers. Including a custom cover letter – which can take just a few minutes to build with our Cover Letter Builder – could be the very thing that lands you an interview.


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