Do you need a cover letter? We've got your covered with cover letter examples

Crafting a professional resume and great cover letters takes time during a job search, and many job seekers will eventually find themselves asking, “Do I really need a cover letter?”, "What's a good example of a cover letter?" and "Who can I go to for cover letter advice?".

With job seekers today outnumbering jobs by as much as 106-to-one, the competition to secure employment has intensified. For those seeking work, a career change or their dream job, it’s often a toss-up between perfecting every resume and creating a good cover letter or getting out as many applications as possible.

So, are cover letters a must-have for every job posting? Also, what makes a great cover letter? Would it be helpful to review a sample cover letter? What does a hiring manager look for? Where can I find the best cover letter examples?

We take a look at when you need one, when you don’t, and how to get the most out of cover letters. We'll also share cover letter examples that you can use to create a great cover letter for your job application.

When is a cover letter essential?

First and foremost, you need to include a good cover letter in any job listing that specifically asks for one. Leaving a cover letter out when it’s requested almost guarantees that you’ll be passed over for applicants who took the time to write one.

If you have a fairly extensive professional history outlined on your resume, a cover letter is also useful for highlighting the skills and experience most relevant to the job in question.

On the other hand, if you’re applying for a dream job but don’t have a huge amount of relevant experience, a cover letter is a good opportunity to communicate your passion for the industry and role, highlight transferable skills, personal value and tell a story about why you should be given a job interview even if you aren’t the most qualified candidate.

You may have heard that cover letters are no longer necessary, but consider your compelling cover letter as another opportunity to sell yourself for the job and stand out to the hiring manager. Creating your own cover letter template can also help you write personalised cover letters for multiple career opportunities saving you some time in the writing process.

Read next: How to write an outstanding cover letter

When is a cover letter not needed?

There are some scenarios in which you don’t need a cover letter, such as when there’s nowhere to upload it in a job application or when you’re applying to someone you have worked with before or know well – or if the hiring manager has advised that one is not necessary. If you’re unsure, though, it’s best to err on the side of caution and include an effective cover letter to show you’re serious about the job. If you’re working with a hiring manager or recruiter representing a potential employer, it’s best to ask directly.

Even if a cover letter isn’t necessary, remember that a resume still isn’t the be-all and end-all. 

Your professional profile extends to your LinkedIn and other social media profiles, and even a dedicated online portfolio (depending on your industry). With this in mind, it’s important to keep your social profiles up to date and relevant to the jobs you’re applying for in case the hiring manager reviews these.

Related: 8 ways to perfect your ‘social resume’

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In a competitive job market, the importance of crafting a professional resume and a compelling cover letter cannot be overstated. Here are the key takeaways for when and how to use cover letters effectively in your job application process:

Cover letters are essential when:

  • The job listing specifically requests one.
  • Highlighting specific skills and experiences relevant to the job.
  • Demonstrating passion and transferable skills for candidates lacking direct experience.

Scenarios where a cover letter may not be necessary:

  • The application process does not allow for one.
  • Applying to a known contact or when advised against by the hiring manager.
  • Always include one if unsure, to show dedication to the role.

Beyond the cover letter:

  • Maintain updated and relevant LinkedIn and other social media profiles.
  • These profiles extend your professional image and may be reviewed by hiring managers.

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