When should I include a cover letter to a job application?

“To include or not include a cover letter with a job application” is one of those controversial topics that has been debated by hiring managers, HR, recruiters and applicants for year and years. The application process is already exhausting itself with having to enter details that are already in your resume. Is there a need include a cover letter when applying to a job? For the most part, no. A resume and the information you provide in the application should be sufficient to match you with the job vacancy. However, there are occasions where a cover letter may come useful to help you get to the next step.

Employment Gap

A good reason to include a cover letter is to explain an employment gap. Personally, I don’t consider it a red flag if someone has been out of work for a few months especially during Covid. We empathize the with the job applicants and don’t question it. If Covid taught us anything, it taught us that it is unreasonable to expect everyone to be able to work through a pandemic and that personal commitments can interfere with employment. A simple cover letter can show that you had a personal commitment that didn’t able you to work but you are ready to be back and working again.

Change in Career Industry

Another reason that can benefit from a cover letter is a change in industry. If you spent your whole career in one industry and want to switch to another industry, a resume may not be the best way to convey it. Use a cover letter to map out skills and experience which can translate into the new industry.

Change in Job Role

The same can be said about a change in the job role. Wanting to go from an engineer to sales? Or from an accountant to finance? Having a cover letter can help you express why you are applying for a position that doesn’t directly align to your previous job role and how you would make the transition.

Share your story

Every once in a while, I come across an applicant that has a story. The story could be something along the lines of working for their dream company. Or how they have relatives that work here and want to follow in their footsteps. It could be sharing about their passion of the job or company’s mission. A cover letter is a great way to share your story.


A cover letter helps you add color commentary to what you would otherwise be unable to do through a resume. A cover letter can give that extra level of detail that would otherwise not come through from a resume.