Do I Really Have To Do A Cover Letter?


If you aren’t sure about attaching a cover letter to your job application then here’s a simple solution: If the application process requests it, then you must include it. If the process doesn’t ask for it, then it is up to you. Covers letters do add value to your application in my opinion, but they also take time – if you are doing them correctly. 

I’ve seen hundreds of them so if you’ve decided to include a cover letter, let’s build a one that works.

What exactly is the point of a cover letter?

The cover letter supports your resume in the overall application process. It can be the first thing a hirer reads, so you must get it right. The idea is,  a cover letter is a shortened version of your resume and it highlights your most relevant skills and experience to the role you are applying for.

At a glance, a hirer should be able to see that you meet their requirements of the role. Remember you could be one of tens or even hundreds of people applying for a role. Do yourself and the hiring manager a favour. Make it easy for them to see why you are best suited to the role. 

What not to do

You could miss an opportunity if  you simply state: “Dear Hiring Manager. Please find attached my application for the role of Business Development Manager. I look forward to hearing from you. Regards Tim

A cover letter gives you an additional touch point to demonstrate your skills and experience to the person to the person making the decision for the role.  Look at it as a preview to your Resume. Just as a movie trailer has a few minutes to impress, so does your cover letter.

What makes a good cover letter?

For the best results, adapt your cover letter to each job application.

  • Identify the key needs of the business from the job ad or job description
  • Align your skill and experience to these needs.
  • Highlight three or four achievements to demonstrate that you have what it takes to do this role well.

Yes this sounds like more work, and it will take more time. But it is time well spent.

Tip to speed up the process

Adapting your achievements to each role is important. This takes time and you could easily double up on work load when applying for a few roles. So here’s how to save yourself time in the long run.

  1. Make a table of your key achievements. This should include
    • the company where you delivered the achievement
    • your job title
    • a short summary of the achievement. Remember an achievement is the results of the actions you have taken when executing your responsibilities.
  2. Once completed, review your achievements and add a selected few to your cover letter. Only include those achievements that directly apply to the skills or experience the company has highlighted in the job ad or job description. For example: If a role asks for ‘minimum six years experience leading a high performing team’, your letter would demonstrate this with “Eight years leading teams to exceed targets, deliver double digit new business revenue growth and achieve above KPI activity levels.”
  3. Repeat this for three or four of the job requirements. Doing this will make your cover letter relevant, targeted and to the point.
  4. When you are applying for other roles, simply refer back to your list of achievements, adapt the cover letter as necessary.
  5. Develop this into a template that you use over and over.

Other pointers

  1. Address the hiring person by name where possible.
  2. Refer to the hiring company name, job title and if provided a reference number for the role
  3. In addition to your achievements, identify two or three of your traits such as self-starter, outcome-driven etc.
  4. Sign off welcoming the next step of the process.

After all that, do hirers read cover letters?

Harsh truth time. Some people do, some don’t. And when you apply for a role, you have no idea if it will or won’t be read. I know that’s not what you want to hear so to understand it more, here’s how it works:

  • Scenario 1: Hirer will read only the cover letter. If the content is not relevant to the role they are recruiting for, they won’t move on the resume. Hence the importance of doing a job specific cover letter.
  • Scenario 2: Hirer will not read the cover letter and go straight to the information on the resume. They want to see your overall information in one go. If they won’t read it, why have they asked for it? Read on:
  • Scenario 3: Multiple people are involved in the process, some who will read the it and some who wont. You have to cover all stakeholders requirements.

The Cover Letter often raises an interesting debate so leave  your tips and comments below.

Here’s one we made earlier

If you would like a copy of the MetaRecruit Cover letter template please contact me on and I will happily share it with you.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top