Cover Letters. Do You Need One?

Apr 03, 2018

What I know about cover letters:

  • 100% of candidates dread writing them.
  • 100% of applicant tracking systems comb them for related keywords.
  • I have a formula that makes them a breeze to write.

Unless a job posting says explicitly no cover letter necessary, it is always a great idea to send one. It’s important to note that you want to target the cover letter for each specific role.

Here is why I recommend sending a targeted cover letter with each application:  

  1.    A cover letter is an expression of interest.

Just like when you are trying to date someone new, you need to compliment them, tell them why you are interested, and close with a qualifying statement.

Julie, I have had the biggest crush on you for the longest time. I think you are brilliant and, the fact that we are both into marine biology is something that we can talk about for hours. Dinner?

Let’s try that technique on an employer:

Hiring Manager,
After carefully reviewing the important values and culture you have crafted, I would like to highlight the ways which my values and work ethic align:

Fostering a strong and supportive team: Some of my most significant career achievements include the successful management of exceptional people. With Company ABC I had the honor of helping to create local jobs by hiring 60 talented sales and operations professionals including a sales manager and multiple sales representatives.

Dedication and an aim for excellence: I have built a steady career within the corporate communications realm while developing a reputation for delivering substantial results by transforming entire customer experiences that produce increased engagement and better relationships.

  1.    A cover letter will help you to stand out from the competition.

While other people are trying to cut corners on their applications, this can be your time to shine! Show off your fabulous writing skills, discuss your excitement for the position, and draw a connection for the hiring manager on why you are the best fit for their requirements. Focus your letter more on hard skills vs. soft skills. Mention specific software programs, certifications, successes, or other industry-related keywords.

  1.  A cover letter shows extra care and effort.

If you take the time to craft a well-written cover letter, even when one is not requested, you are going to come on top as a keen candidate who is willing to go the extra mile to be noticed. When you’re looking for a job, a good rule of thumb is never deliver the bare minimum.

  1.    A cover letter gives you room to overcome objections.

You may need to overcome potential objections such as a gap in your resume, the need for relocation, or the fact that you come from an unrelated industry. A cover letter allows you to make your case clearly and confidently.

Now that your impressive cover letter is ready to send, you have a few options!

If a cover letter is not requested, it will likely not be opened if sent as an attachment. In this case, copy and paste your letter into the body of your email.

If a cover letter is requested then you can send it as an attachment, along with your resume.

BONUS: I have a super easy trick for making sure that your cover letter is keyword optimized so you can beat the ATS robots. Cut and paste the content of the job posting into a word cloud tool such as The tool will then create a fun word cloud for you, highlighting the top 25 or 50 keywords mentioned in the job posting. Scatter the relevant keywords like fairy dust all through your cover letter and VOILA!

Happy hunting!