To Write a Cover Letter? Or NOT Write a Cover Letter? That is the Question!

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There are many deadlines on BentleyLink approaching very quickly (or may have already passed).  I have students come into my office every day to ask me about their cover letters and if they should write one.  I’m here to say, it depends.  My recommendation when applying for opportunities on BentleyLink is, if the employer does not require the cover letter, don’t worry about it, unless you think there is something that will set you apart from other candidates that they can’t tell from your resume.  What might those items be?  It could be that you know someone in the company and want to reference their name in your cover letter.  It could be that you are studying abroad and want to make that connection for the recruiter prior to the interviews.  Or, it could be that you did a service project/course work with the company that isn’t highlighted on the resume.  Most companies will always give you the option of submitting one, but if there is not a red asterisk * next to the Cover Letter submission area, it isn’t required.

Why do I recommend not doing the cover letter in this situation?  Usually when a recruiter doesn’t require a cover letter it’s a timing/application volume issue.  But, if they do require one, OR, you choose to do one on your own, make sure you spend some time on it as they will look at that letter as a writing sample.  You will want that letter to be specific and tailored to the organization and position you are applying to.  If your cover letter is well written and obvious you spent time on it, it will help your application.  If your cover letter is sloppy and generic, it will not help your application.

Applying for opportunities outside of BentleyLink is a different story.  If you are applying through a company website, follow what they require.  If you are reaching out to someone directly, your resume should always go with a cover letter.  But, when it comes to BentleyLink, think through your options and why you might be writing that letter.

I hope this helps you in your decision making/letter writing process!

By Melissa J. Sawyer
Melissa J. Sawyer Senior Associate Director, Undergraduate Career Services Melissa J. Sawyer