Do You Send A Cover Letter With Your Resume?

Depending on who you ask, the cover letter is either useless or essential to getting the job. Do you still use a cover letter, or is the email you attach your resume to essentially your cover letter?

Picture: bearstache/Flickr

Some of the debate comes down to format. Many recruiters and hiring managers have no desire to open a bunch of attachments from an aspiring employee, so if your email isn't your cover letter, it's not getting read. They'll read your email, open your resume and that's it, unless they've asked for more.

Other people say email cover letters are prone to mistakes, and the well-regarded format for the formal cover letter is best served as a separate document. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.


    Recruitment companies: resume only
    Companies directly: depends on the job. Cover letter would be fine but I would keep in concise and let the resume do the rest of the talking.

      A recruitment consultant does not have the time nor patience to read through a cover letter. They are experienced enough to realise that all relevant information that appears in the cover letter will (or at least ought to) also appear in the resume. So reading a cover letter is in almost every case a complete waste of (precious) time.

      Employers generally don't work on recruitment as much as recruitment consultants do, and some of them will have the peculiar (and in my view, outdated) opinion that a cover letter offers some value. They're wrong, but there's a chance that they may be impressed by a tailor-made cover letter.

      Cover letters are a thing of the past. They won't hurt an application but in most cases they won't help. If you have time to write a cover letter, fine - but don't expect the employer or recruiter to refer to it - so if you have important information in there, expect it to be disregarded and consider putting it in your resume - as you can be sure that your resume will be looked at.

        I know for a fact I got my job at a consultancy firm due to my cover letter. I don't know if the initial recruiters read it, but the hiring manager definitely did.

          There's always going to be some that value cover letters, and I dare say those that do also value resumes. Bottom line is you were hired for your experience and skill set, and that would have been displayed on your resume.

    I never make my email the cover letter. The email is basically like the label on the package: "attached is my letter and resume in application for X" and totally disposable. Then the letter, in addition to being short and well-written, can be well-formatted and properly presented. It also means if you've been asked to write the cover letter in a certain way (e.g. as a single-page statement addressing criteria) you can format this in a way that will "stick" as the application makes its way through the ether.

    From the other side, I once told applicants *not* write a cover letter for a particular role, but to provide their application in a clearly specified way. Well, that certainly weeded out all the people who didn't bother to read instructions or who didn't think I might be assessing them in part on their ability to follow said instructions in a creative manner.

      You're lucky to get applicants that read the advert properly, let alone follow ANY instructions, no matter how basic. It's just a reality that the majority of applicants, be they junior or senior, will flick off their resume without giving hardly any thought or consideration to the particular position they're applying for. It's a huge frustration for those that work in recruitment, but it's just a reality that won't change.

      I can agree that it's fantastic to get applicants that do read / listen to and follow instructions but there's a danger in disregarding those that don't - that you'll lose potentially suitable applicants. If you focus only on those that follow instructions you may be reducing your sample size to a very small number.

    If it is a site like Seek and gives you the option of writing a cover letter now, do so as it comes in the email to the recruiter, if that is appealing enough then they will open the attachments.

    Last edited 29/03/13 4:59 pm

    Yes, always send a cover letter (separate document or email). The purpose of the cover letter is to entice the reader to open the resume - nothing else. So it should be brief and to the point. It should clearly state why you should be considered for THIS position, so it should be customized for each application.

    For me as an employer, if you don't send a cover letter I won't read your application.

    I always write one as the body of the email. It's basically along the lines of "I think we'd be f'ing amazing together because of X and Y. Check out some details in the attached resume".

    I treat it like the teaser paragraph when writing / reading a blog post - you have to have a good hook, otherwise no one will keep reading!

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