Unless an employer has specifically stated that a cover letter is not required, I would always recommend sending one with your CV.
The main purpose of a cover letter is to convince the recruiter to read your CV. If you don’t include one your CV will most likely be read anyway, but a cover letter is the perfect opportunity to include more specific information relating to the job advert.
Cover letters don’t need to be lengthy, but they should highlight how your skills and experience match the role for which you’re applying. Don’t simply copy and paste from your CV but elaborate on the key points in it and try to use the same words as in the job ad – this will show your potential employer that you are a perfect match for the job in question.
As with your CV, make sure you tailor the cover letter for the job for which you are applying. I’ve seen cover letters which are obviously sent out en masse and which contain incorrect company names and job titles. Mistakes like this could send your CV straight to the bin.
I also can’t stress enough the importance of checking your spelling and grammar – if you have mistakes in your cover letter the employer may ignore your CV, particularly if a lot of applications have been received.
One final point to make is, even if you are e-mailing your CV to an employer, still include a cover letter. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
What are your thoughts on cover letters? Do you send them with your job applications or do you not bother? Employers, do you prefer to receive a cover letter with a CV?