If you ask me, cover letters are essential whether you are mailing a hard copy of your resume or applying online. Candidates seem to be confused when applying to an online application when asked to upload or copy and paste their resume; are they supposed to include a cover letter as well?
It is always in your best interest to include a cover letter; a cover letter is an introduction of what you will bring to the company and sets the tone for what’s to come in your resume. You can also include information that may not be found in your resume such as your interest in relocating or to explain a career transition. It’s also a fantastic platform for highlighting a few key achievements to grab your reader’s interest.
Sending a cover letter will give you an instant advantage over those candidates that don’t send one but sending a customized cover letter will increase that advantage even more. If it is a situation where you are lacking key details such as a company being listed as confidential or no contact name, do the best you can. Align your cover letter with the position description as much as possible. Pull out keywords from the description and interject them into your letter.
If you haven’t already, you may need to consolidate your cover letter and resume into one document when you apply online. This is also a good idea if you are sending your resume as an email attachment. The fewer documents for your recipient to open, the better.
I always advise clients to send a cover letter. It’s good business etiquette, it makes you appear thorough and detail driven and it gives you an edge over those that neglect this crucial component of the application process.
by Megan Koehler