A “one size fits all approach” for an application cover letter simply doesn’t work. Each cover letter for every role that you apply for must be tailored to suit the perspective employer. Generic cover letters simply will not work.
When a cover letter is needed
Many job seekers focus most, if not all, of their energy on developing the resume while giving little thought to the cover letter; others are unsure what a cover letter does or why it is even needed. As the document that personally introduces you (and your resume), it can be a powerful and essential tool in a job search.
Under most circumstances, a cover letter is used as an introduction and should accompany your resume, whether e-mailed, posted on a job site, mailed, or hand delivered to an employer.
There are a few exceptions to this rule: being a personal introduction that accompanies your resume, a cover letter is not needed if you are hand carrying a resume to a prearranged interview since you will be present to introduce yourself. If an interview is not prearranged when hand delivering a resume, then a cover letter is appropriate since you would not want to be so presumptuous as to assume you will have an interview — even if that turns out to be the case.
Also, if you are delivering the resume to a recruiter or during a networking event such as a career fair, a cover letter is not always needed as these are often cases where the opportunity to introduce oneself in person supersedes the need for a written introduction. However, many candidates at career fairs are handing out resumes; to be sure your documents stand out, you may want to have a broad cover letter on hand and include it with your resume when not meeting directly with hiring managers.
10 reasons why you should always have a cover letter
Have you ever wondered if a cover letter was really that necessary?
If you have been tempted to skip the cover letter, you are not alone. Many people wonder if a cover letter matters — does it help get you noticed?
There are templates for cover letters, and while some provide good information to help you format your cover letter, there’s the temptation to use generic templates just to save time. The fact is, generic cover letters usually get the same results as a generic resume — filed away for another day.
Here are the top 10 reasons you should use a cover letter in your job search:
1. It gives you another platform to market your skills and convey your interest in the company.
2. A well-done cover letter showcases your communication skills.
3. Hiring decision-makers read cover letters, if they are compelling.
4. A cover letter gives you more room to personalise your message to the employer/contact.
5. You can use it to fill in any gaps in your resume.
6. It can help you market your transferable skills.
7. A cover letter gives you a reason to keep your name in front of the decision maker.
8. You can employ creative strategies that bridge your value to the employer’s needs, painting a verbal picture that draws attention.
9. It gives you a chance to make use of additional key words that target the employer’s needs.
10. A cover letter provides closure by giving you a vehicle to ask for the job or ask about next steps.