When to Include a Cover Letter

If you have started the job search, you have likely come across situations where a cover letter is listed as “optional” or there is not a clear place to include the cover letter. While cover letters are often a least favorite part of the job hunting puzzle, it is crucial to include a cover letter whenever possible. Here are a few tips for handling vague or optional cover letter situations.

“Cover Letter Optional”

If a posting says that a cover letter is not required, include one anyway. At worst, the employer will not read it, but may be impressed you included it. At best, the employer will have an opportunity to get a sense of your personality and best qualifications.

Submitting a Resume by Email

If the job posting requires an email-submitted resume and neglects to mention a cover letter, include it in the body of the email. Refer the reader to your attached resume, remind the reader what you are submitting for, and be sure to keep it concise.

Submitting a Resume to be Forwarded

In this scenario, you may be sending a resume to a friend or acquaintance that will then submit it to a hiring manager. In this case, include a formal letter within the text of the email. Direct it at the person you are initially emailing while including details like how you were referred to the position, why you would be a great fit, and your contact information. Alternatively, you can include an attached version of your cover letter and include a short blurb in the email body.

No Option to Submit a Cover Letter

If the online application does not include a space to submit a cover letter, first check to see if there is a “Notes” or “Comments” box. If so, include a short cover letter in the box. If there is no option whatsoever to include a cover letter, then you may omit it.

As you can see, the only time where you should not be submitting a cover letter is when there is absolutely no option to do so. Otherwise, the benefits far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of crafting a cover letter.

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