Q&A: Do I need a cover letter?

Q&AQ. Do I need a cover letter to apply for a job?

A. Two very senior level professionals asked me this question in the same day so I think it’s time to blog about this one. Admittedly it’s been YEARS since I’ve read a cover letter. Usually it comes as a separate attachment from the resume and 100% of the time I go directly to the resume. I do not pass go, I do not collect $200 and I do not open cover letters. Why you ask? Well, I want to get directly to the heart of the matter and find out if a candidate possesses the skills that my client is looking for. Reading a cover letter is much like taking a scenic route and in business we simply do not have time for the scenic route.

So, the answer is no you do not need a cover letter. What you do need is a cover email that will be short, concise and engaging. By short I mean precisely 3-5 sentences.

Sample Cover Letter Email.

Hi Kate,

I was excited to see your posting for the General Manager position on LinkedIn today. A former colleague from my time at Nordstrom, Tim Brown, speaks very highly of his experience working for Apple and referred me to the job announcement. Please contact me directly on my cell phone at 555-555-5555 to discuss my experience as it relates to Apple’s General Manager position.



Pack A Punch

You want to include something in the cover email that packs a punch. Some examples;

  • how you were referred to the company (see example above)
  • what makes you uniquely qualified for the opportunity: ‘I’m a turnaround specialist and have experience turning around profits for 3 plant locations.’ or ‘In my last role I exceed my sales plan by 125%.’

 Non-Profits, Government and/or Education

Occasionally non-profits, governments and/or educational establishments will ask that you include a cover letter with the application. In this case they are asking you for one and you should follow their directions. Here is an example of how to write a good cover letter at Ask A Manager.

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