There may have been a time when the cover letter was considered more of an optional document to include with your resume, but as always, times change. In today’s job search environment, the cover letter is a mandatory part of the document arsenal whose absence can severely weaken your chances of landing the interview.
First, from a practical standpoint, the cover letter serves to clarify your position and qualifications in a more subjective way that your resume does not. It is where you get to convey all of the “soft” skills that you would not normally include in a well-written resume. Usually explain the purpose of a well-conceived resume as providing an eloquent and more subjective handshake introduction of your predominantly objective resume. It is serves the same function as an introductory speaker for a main speaker.
Additionally, many hiring managers see the cover letter as a courtesy, expecting to see one addressed to them (or at least the company and the “Hiring Manager”), clarifying the position for which you are applying. When 100 other applicants send a cover letter and you do not, it seems as though it wasn’t worth your time.
Writing a concise, yet impactful cover letter is a true skill and the letter’s value should not be taken lightly. As I tell all my clients, hen you have to be the last applicant standing, you can’t afford to take anything for granted. If you don’t send in a cover letter, just remember that your competition will.