There is much debate surrounding the topic of whether cover letters are still important or not, leaving applicants wondering if their letter is even read. Most companies nowadays use special programs to scan applicants’ resumes for buzzwords relating to the job(s) they have posted. However, it typically depends on the company when it comes to a cover letter’s relevancy.
A cover letter’s purpose
Think of a cover letter as an expansion of your resume. It’s your chance to write to the hiring manager or HR team stating why they should hire you. Some companies value it more than others, either closely examining it or seeing it as a cherry on top of your job application.
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Because sometimes it’s hard to tell how much the company values cover letters, it’s a safe bet to always write one when it’s required. It’s your chance to go into more detail about why you’re a great candidate for the role. It’s your chance to write about what sets you apart from other candidates who could be applying. Most importantly, it’s your chance to show how much you care—with your writing.
When to include a cover letter
You should include a cover letter if the company has a section for one. If they don’t mention it, you can either include one to be safe or reach out to the HR team to ask about it.
Don’t include one when the company explicitly states not to.
What to include in a cover letter
While a cover letter is your chance to differentiate yourself from other candidates, they typically have a standardized format.
This format includes:
- A header with your name and contact information
- A greeting
- An opening paragraph
- A body paragraph
- A conclusion paragraph
How long a cover letter should be
Yes, this is a chance to show off your writing. No, it’s not a chance to write a dissertation. Keep your cover letter no longer than a full page—and no more than 400 words.
Writing different cover letters for different jobs can be tough—especially when you need to make yourself stand out as an ideal candidate while adjusting your cover letter template used for other applications. However, try to tailor your letter to each job as best as you can. Use the hiring manager’s name (if you can) and start the letter with a compelling intro.