Cover letters – yes or no?

cover-letters - Typing on a laptop

Do people still read cover letters?

Are they relevant today or a tradition from the past? We believe there is a place for cover letters.

Cover letters make a lot of sense

Many years ago when CVs were printed and posted – it was the introduction to the CV. However, now that CVs are sent via email or job sites like Seek or other recruitment website, it could be argued that a short introduction email would be enough. In some situations, it is, however in other situations it is the cover letter that can make you stand out.

We know that cover letters (and CVs no doubt) are a great cause of anxiety for many job seekers, which is why it makes sense to only apply for the jobs you really want, and to put in your best effort when applying for those. It’s unlikely that you will need specialised CVs for each job you apply for, however each cover letter does need to be unique.

Don’t rehash  your CV in your cover letter.

In fact, it’s about the recruiter understanding the story behind (or between the lines of) your CV. They want to know why you’re applying for THIS job. A recruiter wants to understand why you are making a career change. They want to see that you have read the advertisement, have thought carefully about applying, and are now telling them why you are applying. It’s not about a generic letter that only talks about your skills. A good cover letter focuses on the role you are applying for, shows your interest in the role, explains your situation and demonstrates your passion. These are the things that will give you the upper hand.

Let your personality shine

Furthermore, the cover letter is where you can let your personality come through. Showing a bit of humour, talking about why you really want this job and letting us see a glimpse of your personality really helps. It doesn’t need to be overdone, but write in your own voice and feel free to let your personality shine.

There are situations where you don’t necessarily need a cover letter. One example would be where a sales person calls in about a role they have seen an advertisement for and after a good discussion indicates they will apply for the role. If they have time, a cover letter would be great. But often recruiters don’t want to miss seeing a great candidate because they haven’t prepared a cover letter. Another situation where we don’t need a cover letter is for a role such as Contact Centre Reps. The volume of interviews will be high and while a cover letter may help, we certainly wouldn’t penalise these candidates for not providing one.

All in all, cover letters aren’t essential and it’s possible that someone who doesn’t provide one could still be the successful applicant for a role, however they do give you the opportunity to tell your story, let your personality come through and may be just the thing to help set you apart.


  • Make sure it mentions the right job you’re applying for – and addressed to the right person.
  • Tailor it to the job you’re applying for.
  • Talk about things that aren’t in your CV – explain your situation and why you’re interested in the role.
  • Keep it short and sharp – it’s better to have a short, tailored cover letter than a long generic one.
  • Write it as if you were talking to someone on the phone – what would you say about you and why you’re applying. Write professionally, but let your personality shine.

Filed under: Career Advice Resources
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