Do I have to write a cover letter?

Graduating from university means applying for jobs. Swapping that dissertation for a jam-packed CV is the first step. Explaining your motivations is the next – but dishing out application after application is a lengthy process that may leave you asking, “Do I have to write a cover letter?”

A cover letter is essentially a letter or note sent with another document. It discloses the contents of what is contained within the letter. In this case, it explains why you want the job.

When is a cover letter really needed?

If the role or company that you are applying to work for requires a cover letter, they will specify during the application process. It may also be required if the employer or recruiter asks for one, if you are applying directly to a person and know their name, if someone has referred you for the position, or if you know something about the job or position.

They aren’t always necessary, though. If you are applying for a job online, you might not need one, as a lot of the required questions will be answered in an online form.

Why are cover letters so important?

The short answer is yes. They can be the thing that really gives you an edge over another candidate who is also applying for the same role as you. It is proven that about 26% of recruiters read cover letters and consider them important when deciding who gets the role.

Usually, most larger companies do not require cover letters from applicants as they can choose to be picky with who they hire. However, for the smaller more intimate settings, they can use cover letters to sift through the silt and find the hidden treasures, so to speak.

When shouldn’t you include a cover letter?

It is always good to read what the employers actually wants from you. If you send one and you don’t need to, they might discard your application as too much work for them to read through, as bad as that sounds it still does happen.

Also, no letter is better than a roughly written, poorly constructed one.

Do you need a cover letter?

Having written a cover letter not only demonstrates that you are keen and able to formulate coherent sentences, but it is an incredibly useful skill to have. If the cover letter is outlined as being an optional aspect of the application, if you are serious about the role you are applying for it shouldn’t been seen as something to opt out of doing.

A cover letter helps fill gaps in employment by providing explanations and other information that isn’t qualifications or other credentials. It shows them why you are applying as well as why you are suited for the role. It shows that you are eager and serious about the job.

What should one entail?

Ideally, it should only be a short letter with roughly 3 paragraphs. It should pin point how you will increase the company’s value or add to their business with the skills that you have; how will them hiring you be beneficial to them?

You should be inclusive of what skills you can offer, other than your grades. For example, any skills that you have acquired through other jobs or voluntary work. This could include the achievements that you have made throughout the duration you were at your past job. Keep this precise and to the point.

It may be easy to dismiss writing a cover letter – the chore of all chores. Do it anyway. It may be the pathway to bagging that dream job of yours.



Laura Clarke writes for Inspiring Interns, which specialises in finding candidates their perfect graduate jobs. To browse our internships London listings, visit our website.