Should You Still Use a Cover Letter in 2024?

When you’re applying for new jobs, you may find yourself asking whether you should still use a cover letter. It’s a fair question – what employers prioritise and look for changes gradually over time. In fact, it may differ from one employer to another.

Historically, a cover letter has been used to supplement a CV, going into more context around specific points you want to highlight that might be relevant to a potential employer.

But are they still necessary?

Below we explore whether you should still use a cover letter in 2024.

What is a Cover Letter?

First and foremost, let’s establish what a cover letter actually is. There’s often confusion about the form a cover letter should take, how long they should be and when they should be utilised. 

Fundamentally, a cover letter is a document you send alongside your job application and CV that provides additional information – as well as a more persuasive argument – about why you’re right for a specific role. Note that we’ve bolded the last part.

What many people forget is that a cover letter is bespoke for the application you’re applying for. You might reuse the same structure for a similar role but ultimately, the content should be tailored to the person who’s going to be reading it.

While we’re on the subject of structure, one side of A4 should suffice. You want to keep the reader engaged and more importantly, present a concise and effective breakdown of why you’re right for the role. If there’s too many pages or a wall of text, you’re going to lose them instantly.

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Should You Still Use a Cover Letter in 2024?

Now that we know what a cover letter is, should you still use one?

As we mentioned at the top of the article, this depends on your individual circumstance, how comfortable you are writing and your own judgement about how effective a potential cover letter might be.

That said, here’s some common benefits that a cover letter may provide:

1. A good cover letter shows you’ve read the job description

A common complaint from hiring managers and recruiters alike is that many people apply for a role without reading the job description. You might see a job title or a salary and simply send a CV, without considering whether you’re a good fit for the position. 

By sending an effective cover letter that sums up why you’re applying in the first paragraph, you instantly demonstrate that you’ve read and understood the job description.

This is also why writing a cover letter might be easier than you think – the employer has told you everything they want to see in the description, you just need to prove yourself. Take the time to consider each point of the job description and where possible, show that you have experience or skills in that area via a sentence in your cover letter.

2. A good cover letter shows dedication and initiative

Whether or not the employer wants to see a cover letter, having the option there demonstrates a certain level of commitment to a successful application. You’ve shown extra interest and taken the time to consider why you’re a good fit for the role, which many employers will appreciate.

Secondly, if 10 people apply for a role and only one sends a cover letter, that person is naturally going to have a higher chance of succeeding. It’s always a good idea to act on the basis that everyone is going to send as much information as possible and if you don’t, you’re going to miss out.

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3. A good cover letter lets you expand on key points in the CV

You may remember in previous blogs that we laid out the ideal way to write a CV and the most important skills to put on a CV. If you’ve taken this advice, you’ll realise that you don’t have much space on the document itself, particularly if you have an extensive work history or detail several key responsibilities. 

This is where writing a cover letter comes in useful. You suddenly have an extra 300 – 500 words at your disposal with which you can narrow down key successes, responsibilities or efforts and explain these in more detail.

It’s particularly effective to take this approach if you want to provide an overview of a particular project in a ‘problem, action, result’ format. This way you can detail how you faced a specific issue, the actions you took and literally provide data on the results so that the reader has proper context – something that is much more persuasive in the long-term.

4. A good cover letter lets you show your personality

Your CV may be excellent from start to finish, detailing all of your skills and successes in a succinct and engaging way. Unfortunately, CV’s don’t often allow you to fully put your personality across to an employer. 

It’s an increasing priority of employers to measure a candidate not just on technical ability but how they might fit into the culture of the business. A cover letter gives you the opportunity to do this. While we’re not suggesting you go off-topic for 500 words about what you do on the weekend, we do suggest giving a bit of background about yourself, why you’ve chosen the career you have and why you want to join the company.

5. A good cover letter acts as a call-to-action

When you’re creating a cover letter, always remember that it needs to serve two purposes. It either needs to encourage someone to read your CV or it needs to reinforce what they’ve already seen so far.

The conclusion of your cover letter is a fantastic opportunity to provide a ‘call-to-action’ and finish strong. You may use the end to state your availability for an interview, how soon you can start work or even provide the reader with an opportunity to get in touch with any further questions.

A great way to be engaging is to be direct! Lay out what you’re applying for and why you feel you’re a good fit. It can be difficult complimenting yourself but ultimately, this is the main point of a job application in the first place.

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Examples of a Cover Letter

If you’re now thinking ‘I should use a cover letter’ but you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. We have an example below you can tailor to your own:

Dear [Contact Name / Whomever It May Concern],

I’m writing to you as I’m interested in working at [company name] as a . I feel I’d be a great fit for the role due to my experience as a [current job title]. During my current role, I’ve built a wide range of skills including [relevant skills] which I feel would be highly applicable to your own business. I’m a [adjective] worker and believe I’d add value to the business, helping you achieve your objectives.

The [years of experience] that I have in the industry means I’ve had plenty of opportunities to put my skills to the test. A major success I had recently was when I [details of major achievement], which led to [evidence of success].

While I still enjoy my current role, the idea of working for your company is extremely exciting as I feel you’re doing great work in the industry and I love taking on new challenges. I recently saw that you [details of employer’s success/employer objectives], which aligns with what I’m looking to achieve myself. I feel that my natural aptitude in [skill] and [skill] would help you achieve these goals and help us both progress to where we want to be.

I’ve attached my CV alongside this cover letter so that you can learn more about my work history, skill set and qualifications. I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I’m looking forward to hearing back from you in the future. If you have any questions, please feel free to get back to me – I’m currently job searching full-time so I have plenty of availability in terms of interviewing and start date. 

Yours sincerely, 

[Full name]