How to Decide When You Need a Cover Letter

Cover Letters

We are routinely asked by clients if a cover letter is necessary when applying for a job. Let’s face it, no one enjoys writing cover letters and while it may appear to be repetitive, as your relevant information is already on your resume, a cover letter is a very useful to tool to help you further highlight your ‘fit’ for both the position and the company. Being specific regarding the department or position you wish to pursue, your unique qualifications, and attributes that complement the position can help you get one step closer to obtaining the job.
When trying to determine the value of pairing a cover letter with a resume, we suggest you follow these tips.

  • Take the time to tailor each cover letter referencing your qualifications for the job, including how your skills and/or passions align with the company values
  • Utilize job advertisements to determine what credentials are most important to the employer
  • Include a cover letter when you are applying for an advertised job, a position requiring post-secondary education, or a trades certificate
  • Take advantage of opportunities to include an additional document with your online applications
  • Highlight your transferable skills in a cover letter if you are a career changer or have limited skills in the industry you are applying
  • Include a cover letter in the email body when pursuing unadvertised opportunities in the hidden market
  • Research more about the company to identify the contact name, gender and job title, ensuring to use Mr., Mrs., or Ms. followed by their last name in the salutation
  • Use a proper business letter format including the date, company information such as the contact person, their job title, company name and full address, proper salutation, and a formal sign off
  • Have someone else proofread your cover letter for grammar, spelling, and content
  • Be clear, concise and informative when describing your experience and qualifications

At all costs, be sure to AVOID addressing your letter “To Whom It May Concern”, using the same generic cover letter for all jobs, or highlighting what the job can do for you.
In summary, if you are not sure you should include a cover letter it is better to be safe than sorry. Even though it may not be requested by the employer, if most other candidates do provide a cover letter they have a better chance of being selected by the employer. The effort you put into your job search is a reference point for the employer as to what you will be like as an employee so demonstrating motivation and resourcefulness from the beginning will increase the likelihood of moving onto the next step in the selection process.

If you would benefit from a cover letter critique, drop in to our Resource Centre to speak to one of our skilled Employment Counsellors.