Q: In this day and age, are we still required to use cover letters when replying to online job postings, especially sites that have one-click “easy application” features that let you attach a résumé and apply without going through multiple screens of questions? The basics I would include in a cover letter are already at the top of my résumé.
A: Imagine you’re a man going to a job interview at a workplace where you’ve been told the dress code is “business casual.” Do you throw a blazer over a button-down shirt and call it a day, or go the extra inch and pop on a necktie? It probably depends on the impression you want to make and how you want to brand yourself. And odds are, in all but the most aggressively casual workplaces, you won’t be penalized for wearing one. So why not?
Granted, trying to draft an original cover letter for every application is overkill and a waste of time. Not every interview calls for a necktie of bespoke Italian silk, tastefully patterned and precisely knotted, with a complementary pocket square.
Just as you probably have multiple ready-to-share résumés tailored to a variety of jobs, you should also have a selection of prewritten, neutral-tone standard introductory statements to pair with them. It may well be overlooked by most applicant-tracking systems or hiring managers, but it’s a simple finishing touch, and an opportunity to make a statement about yourself.