How Necessary Are Cover Letters? (Career Advice)

Finding a job is hard. It’s a lot of work, and it’s stressful, to say the least. If you’re looking for your first full-time job out of college or graduate school, then I’m sure you know what I mean. However, it isn’t just the actual search that can be stressful it’s also all the paperwork involved (and there are lots). 

When it comes to cover letters, you want to make sure yours stands out among all the others to show that you’re qualified and serious about this opportunity. But before we get started with tips on writing a great one: let me ask you something: Are cover letters even necessary?

Writing a Cover Letter | Are Cover Letters Really Necessary?
A well-crafted cover letter can make a significant difference in whether you get the job or not.
To create an effective cover letter, you need to understand how it works.
Your resume and cover letter can work together to help you land the job.
Starting a cover letter can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be.
Check out our comprehensive guide on all you need to know about cover letters.
Customize your cover letter for each job application.
Keep your cover letter concise and to the point.
A strong cover letter can help compensate for a weak resume.
Use a cover letter template as a starting point, but customize it for each job application.

Why Do Cover Letters Matter?

The cover letter is meant to be a conversation starter. It’s a way to show your personality, and it’s an opportunity for you to let the hiring manager get to know you better. Your cover letter should be able to answer three questions: Who are you? Why do we want you? What can you do for us?

The purpose of the cover letter is not just to show that you have done your research on the company, but also that it shows how interested in this job you are.

A well-crafted cover letter can make a significant difference in whether you get the job or not. Check out our article on how important cover letters are to understand why cover letters matter in job applications.

Who Will Read Your Cover Letter?

Many people will read your cover letter. The hiring manager, the HR department, the recruiter, and also potential bosses at other companies in case you apply for a job where you could move up in your career. But here’s the thing about this list: it doesn’t end with those five people. It goes on and on and on. 

The point is: there are so many people involved in deciding whether to hire someone or not that it isn’t worth worrying about whether they’ll read what you wrote because they probably won’t anyway!

Should You Address The Hiring Manager By Their First Name Or Last Name?

It’s best to use their first name if you know it, but only if you have a good reason. If you’re not sure, stick with “Mr./Ms.” or “Dear hiring manager,” which are polite and respectful while still being professional. 

The last thing you want is to sound overly familiar by using their first name unless they’ve permitted you. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and stick with last names you can always ask later about how they prefer to be addressed when making your correspondence more personal.

Should You Start Your Cover Letter With A Greeting?

This is an important question to answer because it’s often the first thing that people will notice about your letter. It can also help you stand out from other applicants.

When it comes to greeting, this depends on your situation. If you’re applying for a job, then a greeting is necessary because it will make you feel more like a person and less like an application. 

On the other hand, if you’re sending out applications on behalf of someone else (such as your boss), including a greeting may seem unprofessional or even arrogant since there are no hard feelings between the company and themselves.

To create an effective cover letter, you need to understand how it works. Our article on how do cover letters work can help you understand the purpose of a cover letter and how to make it stand out.

What Should You Include In The Body Of Your Cover Letter?

Once you’ve decided to include a cover letter with your resume, it’s important to remember that the cover letter is an opportunity for you to introduce yourself and explain how you can help the company. You want to make sure that the body of your cover letter is concise and gets across all of these points:

  • Why are you a good fit for this job?
  • How can you benefit the organization?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates applying for this position?

You should also include information about yourself as well as why you’re interested in working at this company specifically. The goal here is not just to appear on someone’s radar; it’s also to get them excited about hiring someone like yourself and seeing where things might go from there!

How Long Should Your Cover Letter Be?

A cover letter should be no more than one page. If you are submitting a two-page resume, then the cover letter will only be about one page. This is because you are only writing about yourself. 

It is not a business proposal or an essay; it is just an introduction of who you are and why they should hire or interview you. If your resume runs over two pages, then there is too much information in it that needs to be condensed into one page for the cover letter as well.

The most important thing to remember when writing your cover letter is that it should never exceed two paragraphs (five sentences). 

The first paragraph should summarize your previous experience, academic achievements, and/or extracurricular activities relevant to the position applied for (in chronological order). The second paragraph allows for some personal touches like hobbies or things that make them unique from other candidates applying for this job opening (but don’t go overboard!).

Should You Send A Cover Letter When The Job Posting Doesn’t Specify That One Is Required?

You should always send a cover letter with your resume. If your resume is well-written and demonstrates that you are a qualified candidate, the employer will likely appreciate seeing how you can bring value to their company.

In addition to showing that you’re well-qualified for the position, sending an introductory letter also allows you to make an impression on the hiring manager and demonstrate your interest in the job. It’s common practice for employers to read every application they receive even if it isn’t explicitly stated in the job posting.

If there’s something about yourself or your qualifications that makes you uniquely qualified for this job (such as previous experience working at another company doing similar work), now is when it’s most appropriate to share this information with them.

Your resume and cover letter can work together to help you land the job. Learn more about how they complement each other in our article on how a resume and cover letter help you get the job.

Is It Ok To Write “Dear Hiring Manager” In A Cover Letter Instead Of Using A Specific Person’s Name?

This can be a tricky question, but the answer is yes. If you’re applying to many jobs in one industry or field, it’s important to be specific about who you’re targeting your cover letter toward. 

However, if you’re sending out multiple applications for different positions at different companies or even just applying for jobs on a general job search website like Monster or Indeed it’s fine to use the more generic “Dear Hiring Manager” in your introductory paragraph.

As long as you’ve done some research and identified whether the company uses formal titles or not (a good rule of thumb is that if they have an HR department they will probably use them), then it’s okay to use more general terminology when addressing hiring managers and other executives by name in your cover letter. 

That doesn’t mean you should neglect to research their names completely; we’ve learned from experience that people love feeling special!

Starting a cover letter can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Our article on how to start writing a cover letter provides some tips and examples to help you begin your cover letter with confidence.

How Do I Submit My Cover Letter If The Application Process Only Asks For My Resume?

The answer, of course, is that you should always include a cover letter with your application. Always. Even if the application process only asks for your resume.

The reason is simple: a cover letter allows you to tell the hiring manager why you’re excited about the job and what makes you a great fit for it in much more detail than would fit on one page on its own (or even two pages). 

And when it comes time for them to decide between multiple applicants who have similar qualifications and experience, who do they think will be able to contribute more? The one whose qualifications are evident in their writing or speech? Or someone who just regurgitates their resume into an automated email message?

It might seem like extra work and often includes extra steps but doing so adds value to your application materials by establishing trust and rapport between yourself and potential employers before even submitting them!

If you’re looking to learn everything you need to know about cover letters, check out our comprehensive guide on all you need to know about cover letters. From structure to content, we’ve got you covered!


As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when writing a cover letter. But if you follow the tips above and make sure that your letter is well-written and personalized for the position you’re applying for, it will be worth the extra effort.

Further reading

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more about cover letters:

Prospects: Cover letters: Prospects provides an overview of cover letters, including tips on what to include and how to structure your letter.

Michael Page: Why cover letters are important: Michael Page explains why cover letters are important and offers some advice on how to make your cover letter stand out.

Indeed: Do employers care about cover letters?: Indeed explores whether employers care about cover letters and offers some insight into how cover letters are used in the hiring process.


What should I include in a cover letter?

A cover letter should introduce yourself, explain why you’re interested in the job, and highlight your relevant skills and experience.

Should I customize my cover letter for each job application?

Yes, it’s important to tailor your cover letter to the specific job and company you’re applying to. This shows that you’ve put in effort and are genuinely interested in the position.

How long should a cover letter be?

A cover letter should be one page or less. It should be concise and to the point, highlighting your most important qualifications and experience.

Can a cover letter make up for a weak resume?

While a strong cover letter can help compensate for a weak resume, it’s important to focus on improving both your resume and cover letter to increase your chances of getting the job.

Is it okay to use a template for a cover letter?

Using a template for a cover letter can be a good starting point, but it’s important to customize it for each job application. Using the same cover letter for every job can come across as lazy and uninterested.