Application controversy: Students debate usefulness of cover letters


Cover letters have developed a bad reputation. Most people dread them when they are applying for jobs. It’s understandable why they have such a bad reputation: they’re time-consuming, tedious and a risk that, more often than not, earns no reward.

However, the hate can be extreme at times. While there are many drawbacks, especially when applying for numerous jobs in a short period, cover letters can also be beneficial. 

Cover letters often act as a first impression to a company, filling in the gaps where the resume can’t. They’re a way for candidates to elaborate on their past experiences, explain why their skills align with the role and express their genuine interest. While resumes provide a good overview of a candidate’s qualifications for a role, cover letters, more than anything, allow their voice and personality to shine through. 

Cover letters are not always fun, but the opportunity they allow to expand upon one’s resume is appreciated. It can be disappointing to receive rejections, especially for roles that the candidate was excited about, but having the opportunity to express themselves through a cover letter can get them so much farther than a resume can by itself.

Cover letters also allow candidates to demonstrate effort towards the role as well as flex their research and written communication skills. These skills are vital for most roles, so why wouldn’t a candidate want to show them off early on in the process?

It’s true that not everyone has the time to be constantly writing perfectly crafted cover letters, but they can be a valuable asset to an application. In my experience, once I’ve written a few drafts that are fit for various industries, I have found it easier to use those as a template and shape them for individual applications. It saves a lot of time not having to start from scratch with each one.

The cover letter debate will certainly continue to rage until someone finally decides whether they should stay as part of the application process or go. For now, they should stay.



Cover letters have already been the center of various debates for years now, as people argue whether or not the practice of writing cover letters is dying. As of right now, it is noticeable in the job market that cover letters are at the very least becoming something optional, yet every career advice website you read will say you should still write one in order to stand out from the competition. 

However, I want to highlight how desperate and degrading the process of writing a cover letter can be. Essentially, writing a cover letter is not applying to a job, it’s applying for a chance to have an interview. 

An interview alone is very similar to a cover letter, as both call for you to elaborate on who you are and why you are a perfect fit for the position. The difference is a cover letter is more work, allows a potential candidate to lie and is restrictive. If it isn’t the ideal letter in the hiring manager’s opinion — if they even choose to read it, that is — then that can cost you a chance to interview.

I understand that hiring managers require cover letters to ensure their time won’t be wasted in an interview, but what about the applicant’s time? Crafting a cover letter takes drafts of writing and editing, sometimes even including peer review. All this time and work can be for naught when they receive an email months later — if the company even decides to email them back, which is a whole separate issue — rejecting their application.

In addition to this, it’s excessive to require cover letters for internships. In this modern era, it is practically impossible to get a career without first having an internship. The fact that students who are already stressed about what they’re going to do after graduation have to then beg for employers to notice them for internships is scary. 

I’m still going to write cover letters, but I can admit the oddity of the practice. If cover letters have been sparking so many debates over the years, isn’t that a sign that perhaps there’s a flaw in the system?


Featured photo courtesy of Pavel Danilyuk, Pexels