In 98% of cases, you must include a cover letter in your job application. While recruiters may not always read it, they expect candidates to submit one. A cover letter will significantly increase your chances and set you apart from other candidates with similar backgrounds and resumes. Cover letters can reveal a person's voice, how they communicate, how they think, and more.
At the end of the day, the choice to include a cover letter in your job application is usually up to you. Regardless of your reasons for including a cover letter, you should remember that you still need a great resume. In addition, while you can adapt your resume to an individual job, you can adapt your cover letter to work and to the company, Kaplan says. Regina Borsellino is a New York-based editor of The Muse who covers job search and career counseling, in particular best resume practices, interviews, remote work, and personal and professional development.
For jobs where writing and messaging are essential, such as publishing, journalism and marketing, the cover letter is a work sample that shows how well you can do the job. You can also choose to send a cover letter whenever a system allows you to upload one as part of the application. So, while I fully understand the need to skip this step, there are some things that a cover letter can do that your resume simply can't or at least not so well. Some job offers will say that a cover letter is required, while others don't include any mention of it.
Whether you actually NEED to include a cover letter depends on what the employer says in the job description. A cover letter can be used as an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge about the job, but don't use it as a way to tell your potential employer what you're doing wrong and how to fix it. If you're taking the trouble to write a fantastic personalized cover letter, do your best to email it directly to the hiring manager, so you don't get lost along with hundreds or even thousands of other candidates in the automated candidate tracking system. Sending a cover letter, even if it's optional, shows employers that you cared enough about their work to go one step further to create something, says Eliot Kaplan, a professional coach at Muse, who spent 18 years as vice president of talent acquisition at Hearst Magazines before founding Eliot Kaplan Coaching.