5 Signs You Actually Need To Include a Cover Letter In Your Application

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Joanne Rosen1.66k
Resume Writer Extraordinaire!
May 24, 2024 at 10:10PM UTC

There are huge debates about whether or not you should use a cover letter when applying for a job. Within my own network of approximately 3,000 recruiters, the argument rages and no one can agree. Some will read them, others won’t. 

First, let’s talk about that cover letter. If you’re thinking of sending a generic cover letter that starts with “Dear Hiring Manager,” and then regurgitates your resume, don’t bother. It does more harm than good, similar to sending the exact same resume for every job. You’re not generic — your cover letter and resume shouldn’t be either.

When should you include a well-written, unique cover letter when applying for a position? Here are five signs that you should.

1. More than 50 people have applied.

 You can see these statistics on some recruiting or networking social media sites. This signals that it’s a hot job and you are only one in a pack. You need to stand out. A great cover letter, written to an actual person and talks about what you admire about the company and why you are the best candidate, could be the difference between you and them. 

2. You have a referral. 

One of the best ways to get a job is to be referred by someone inside the company. It’s great if you have a friend who can, but even if you don’t, you can look on LinkedIn to see who works there and network with them. Many companies have referral bonuses for staff. It’s much cheaper than paying a recruiter and is a win for the employee. This cover letter needs to specify that you have spoken with Jane Doe about why she loves working there. You got so enthusiastic that you asked her for the name of the hiring authority and if she would take your resume right in. 

3. You have to hit the APPLY button. 

This is the worst way to get hired, but, unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to find a way around it. So, along with everyone else, you hit the button and hope that your resume will go through their ATS. Chances are pretty good it won’t end up in the top 10% unless you carefully wrote it for that company. However, you can increase your chances with a brilliant cover letter. Read the job description carefully and then use some of their own words in your cover letter. They want someone who isn’t afraid to take risks? You write: I’m not afraid to take risks. In fact, once I…. Share something that was a risk. 

4. They ask for one.

 Seems like a no-brainer if they ask. Still, this is so important. They want to see whether or not you have done the research. They also want to find your personality. If you simply word vomit phrases from your resume, you won’t get through. This is your sales pitch so make it great. Sell the product: you! 

5. You want to contact the recruiter directly. 

As I said above, some read them, some don’t. It comes down to this: It can’t hurt! Create a great introductory letter. Remember that you are so excited about this position that you did some research, found they were recruiting, and you simply had to write. Talk about some personal aspects of your life that illustrate your unique fit into the position. Maybe you used to design and build furniture for your dolls and have now made it your career. Show the passion. 

You can always search the internet to find good cover letter examples. It’s not rocket science, it’s sales — and you are the product.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Joanne Rosen is the owner of Analytic Advantage Career Consulting and leverages 30+ years in business along with a Master’s degree in Professional Communication to create resumes and provide all the tools to help you get the job you deserve. If you want a free analysis of your current resume, please upload it at: www.analyticadvantagecc.com.

What’s your no. 1 sign you need to include a cover letter in your application? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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