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Do you still need a cover letter in 2018?
Tailoring a resume and cover letter to every job application is time-consuming, and job seekers often end up asking, “Do I really need a cover letter?”
In a job market where there are 4.8 job seekers for every vacancy, competition is alive and well, and it can be tricky to strike a balance between perfecting every cover letter and getting out as many applications as possible.
But is a cover letter necessary? Here’s a guide to when you need one, when you don’t, and how to write an impressive cover letter.
When is a cover letter a must-have?
For starters, a cover letter is always needed when it’s asked for in the job listing. If you choose to leave a cover letter out when it’s specifically requested, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be passed over for candidates who have taken the time to write one.
If you’re applying for a dream job but don’t have much relevant experience, a cover letter is your chance to express your passion for the job and industry and tell a story about why you should be given an interview even though you may not be the most experienced applicant.
For candidates with a varied work history, a cover letter also offers the opportunity to hone in on specific skills and experience that are relevant to the job in question.
Is a professional resume good enough?
There will be times when a cover letter isn’t needed, such as when the job listing says not to include one or when you are sending your resume to someone you know well. As a general rule, though, it’s best to include a cover letter to show you’re serious about the job.
Even if a cover letter isn’t required, don’t forget that your professional profile still extends far beyond your resume. In 2018, employers and recruiters are likely to look at everything from your LinkedIn profile to other social media to your online portfolio (if portfolios are common in your industry). That means it’s imperative to keep your online presence up to date and relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.
How to write a great cover letter
Employers and recruiters could need to look through hundreds of cover letters before selecting interviewees, so it pays to keep yours concise and to the point. Be sure to tick the following boxes:
- Address the hiring manager by his or her name, if you know it
- Include the role you’re applying for
- Craft a short, compelling opening statement about why you’re the ideal candidate for the role
- Highlight why you’re passionate about the job and industry
- Mention your education and experience, using relevant keywords and phrases
- Include any relevant key successes you’ve had in previous jobs or while studying
- Close with a call to action to meet
Aim to keep your cover letter to one page and make sure the information you include is relevant to the specific job you’re applying for.
Need help writing your next cover letter? Download our free cover letter template.