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When to include a cover letter

When should you include a cover letter? Targeted cover letters (if written correctly) can enhance your application and pinpoint what qualifications you have that an employer is seeking for a particular position (a one-size-fits-all approach is not the route to take!). However, not every application requires a cover letter—in fact, in some instances; employers would prefer not to receive one. It’s likely you will be submitting materials for three types of applications...

Within your ECS Job Search Account:

  1. “P” types (“Preselects” also known as on-campus interviewing opportunities): For on-campus interviews, employers like being able to interview many candidates in a relatively short time frame. Since one of their goals is efficiency, we don’t recommend including a cover letter when applying—in fact your job search account only allows you to submit a resume.

  2. “J” types (“Job Listings” which are opportunities where an employer cannot make it on campus to interview, so they will likely be conducting phone or site interviews): For job listings, you have the option of including “notes” along with your resume (notice the empty white text box when you go to apply). Although we don’t recommend a full blown cover letter, for these postings, it may be helpful to include a one (concise, error-free) paragraph statement about why you are a great fit for that particular job.



Outside of your ECS Job Search Account:


  1. External postings on a company’s website or job board: Since you are competing against more applicants (rather than just other OSU engineering students in your major within your ECS Job Search Account), a tailored cover letter can make you stand out among the competition. If you have the ability to upload “additional documents”, a cover letter should be included.



Be sure to check out our previous blogs for tips on writing successful cover letters.

"If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?"
-John Wooden


Categories: Resumes

About the author

Rachel Kaschner

Rachel Kaschner is the Assistant Director at Engineering Career Services.