Are Cover Letters Still Relevant?

By Mark Swartz

Monster Contributing Writer

Should you bother writing a cover letter? It’s a question being asked often these days. With the popularity of social profiles and resume scanning, cover letters are under scrutiny.

Candidates wonder if it’s worth the effort: maybe their carefully crafted letter won’t get read. Recruiting firms might only pass it on to employers if asked for one; if employers are swamped with resumes, they may consider the cover letter unnecessary.

Yet strong arguments remain in favour of preparing a tightly written cover letter. Here’s what three Canadian specialists have to say.

Always Write a Cover Letter Even If You Don’t Send One

Tara Orchard is a career coach and social media specialist. Now located in Winnipeg, her wide-ranging clientele is from across the country.

According to Tara, it is always useful to create a formal cover letter . “Although you may decide not to include a copy with your application, it forces you to focus on the key points of who you are and what you have to offer.”

Tara adds that parts of the cover letter can be applied for other purposes. “Portions can be inserted into your social media profiles, used for introducing yourself while networking, or when replying during interviews.”

She suggests that you include a cover letter when responding to posted advertisements. Also when making unsolicited applications to employers. That way you cover your bases if one is required.

As for style, “I prefer first person conversational,” says Tara. “For instance, my phrasing would be ‘I am an accomplished motivator’ rather than starting with ‘Ms. Orchard is…’” Letting some of your personality show can serve to humanize you. See these Monster cover letter examples for reference.

If You Do Send a Cover Letter, Make Sure It’s Well Written

Howard Scholl is a senior IT recruiter in Montreal. He works at MaxSys Staffing & Consulting, which operates in 12 cities around Canada.

“There are two streams of thought regarding cover letters,” says Howard. “If written compellingly, they’re a powerful tool to help secure an interview. But if done poorly you could knock yourself out of the running.”

A well-written cover letter does the following, according to Howard: it complements your resume and social media presence, pulling out the highlights most relevant to the position you’re applying for; and it should include some evidence that you have researched the employer .

“Correct grammar and spelling are also important when evaluating your application,” Howard says. He’s seen many instances where qualified candidates harm their chances by not proofreading adequately. That affects the impression an employer will form.

Howard points out that typical IT applicants rarely include a cover letter. Employers care more about qualifications and experience. However this changes at more senior levels of information technology. Job seekers for those positions should show they can express themselves clearly. “IT directors, senior project managers and executives must be able to articulate more than their certifications and technical skills.”

Customize Your Content and Cover Any Gaps

Daisy Wright is the author of two respected career books, No Canadian Experience, Eh? and Tell Stories, Get Hired . She operates out of the greater Toronto area.

This specialist agrees that debate over cover letters continues. Some employers want them, others do not. “For example,” says Daisy “if you apply for a job with the Ontario government, they ask that you include a cover letter in the same file as your resume. Whereas the municipal government where I live, in Brampton , only wants a resume.”

Due to these varying preferences, Daisy recommends sending a cover letter unless the employer specifies otherwise. “Beyond responding to a job and using language from the posting, you can explain any gaps or special situations revealed by your resume.”

This can refer to job-hopping , or time off for things like a sabbatical or family care. Addressing these in the cover letter lets you explain the circumstances.

An alternative to a full cover letter is an e-mail cover note instead, observes Daisy. “Many people will take time to read a concisely worded e-mail, especially if it has a gripping subject line.” So consider including three shortened, customized paragraphs of your cover letter in the body of that e-mail. Then mention that your resume is attached.

“You can spice up the cover letter by opening with an attention-grabbing question or very short story ,” adds Daisy. “Done right it can stand out and put you top of mind.”

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Top 10 questions about cover letters answered, cover letter sample for part-time work.

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How to write the perfect cover letter for canada.

Updated on September 13, 2023

Craft a winning cover letter that will help you land your dream job in Canada.

Do you have health insurance for Canada?


How do you write a cover letter for Canada? We’re here to provide tips on how to write a focused Canadian cover letter and supply you with cover letter examples.

Being able to write a cover letter for Canada is a must for all professional job applications and is crucial to finding work in the country, so let’s get started.

Write the perfect cover letter for Canada’s job market

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to creating the perfect cover letter for Canada is that there’s a three-pronged approach to success.

First of all, you need to introduce yourself and the job you are applying for.

Secondly, make it patently clear that your skill set matches that requirements listed in the job description.

Finally, articulate the reasons why you would be an ideal candidate for an interview but don’t be too pushy.

OK, so let’s look at these three points in closer detail.

  • Always state your relevant skills and reasons why you are right for the role in question as early as possible in your cover letter for Canada. A cover letter in Canada is not all about you. Ensure you spend at least 30 per cent of the document talking about what you know about the company — recent projects, company values, company news. Make the company feel special and they will be more likely to invite you for an interview.
  • Do not simply rehash your resume. Instead you should focus on showing why the skills and experience you have would be a fit for the role in question . It makes sense to address each requirement in turn, doing so shows the hiring manager that you understand the role clearly and could be a great fit for the position.
  • Do your research on the company and demonstrate this in your cover letter to ensure you make a good first impression. Don’t take it as a given. Highlight what you know, but don’t be brash about it.
  • Don’t forget that you will need two documents — a resume and cover letter — for a successful job application in Canada. Keep your resume brief and then craft a cover letter to provide more nuance to the key skills and attributes that you will bring to the role if hired. In brief, make sure that you “tick all the boxes” that are outlined in the job description.
  • Our comprehensive resume guide should help you with the accompanying resume, which is also crucial to landing an interview and ultimately your dream job in Canada.
  • Also, we have listed some common interview questions and how to answer them.

is cover letter necessary in canada

Want to write the best Canadian cover letter possible?

A cover letter for canada: always needed.

In some instances — such as if you are lucky enough to be referred by an employee of a company — a cover letter may not be completely necessary. However, it is best to write a Canadian cover letter for each job application as it is a means of demonstrating your understanding of the position and how your skills and experience match the requirements. This is particularly true if you want to land that dream career job.

Take the time to understand the company and elaborate concisely about how you can help them. That’s how to make a strong first impression and write a successful cover letter. Generic cover letters for Canada that state “I have always wanted to work for {insert company name} . . .” don’t cut it, so differentiate yourself by showing the company you are genuinely interested in them.

Don’t forget to download the  Moving2Canada Getting Started Guide today. In this free guide you will find detailed templates for a Canadian-style resume and a Canadian cover letter. The guide will give you exclusive access to our proven cover letter techniques and will help you accelerate your job search in your new home.

is cover letter necessary in canada

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A Canadian cover letter is a short document written in response to a specific job prospect and addressed directly to the hiring manager or individual in charge of hiring for the position. It should add to the information contained in your resume and resent you to the employer as a candidate.

Cover letters are essential in the hiring process as they provide candidates with the opportunity to introduce themselves, demonstrate their qualifications, and show enthusiasm for a specific role and company.

They serve as a personalized communication tool, allowing candidates to make a positive first impression, tailor their message to the job, and address potential concerns or unique situations.

A well-written cover letter enhances a candidate’s chances of standing out and securing an interview in Canada .

The following are general guidelines only. You must tailor your cover letter to suit your own experiences, and to suit the specific position you are applying for.

Before You Begin

Once you find a specific job posting that you want to apply for, you can begin to work on your application cover letter. Following these steps before you begin will help you write the best cover letter possible.

1. Do Your Research

Before you begin to write your cover letter, learn everything that you can about the company or organization you are applying to. Check out their website and social media pages, research their top competitors, and read recent industry news articles. Learn the name(s) of the individual(s) who will be in charge of hiring for the position you want, as well as the head(s) of the company.

Also, keep in mind the job description and requirements for the role. it allows you to create a cover letter that showcases your qualifications, aligns with the company’s needs, and demonstrates your genuine interest in the position. This, in turn, increases your chances of being noticed and considered for the role.

Doing this research will help you decide what you should include. Do your research for every cover letter you write. It may take some time, but you have a much better chance of being granted an interview if you have tailored your cover letter to the individual who will be reading it.

2. Check for Instructions

Some employers include instructions in their job postings. They might ask you to include specific information or answer certain questions, in your cover letter. Check whether the employer has left any specific instructions for your cover letter. If they have, follow them carefully.

3. Save time by using a Master Template:

Creating a separate cover letter for every job application can be exhausting. Instead, develop a comprehensive cover letter template that highlights your key qualifications, skills, and experiences.

Keep a library of snippets or bullet points highlighting your achievements, skills, and relevant experiences. You can easily insert these into your cover letter as needed. This template can serve as a foundation for various job applications, making the process more efficient.

Formatting Guidelines

There is a standard cover letter format that most Canadian employers will expect you to follow. However, depending on your industry and the specific job posting you are responding to, you may have to change the formatting of your cover letter.

1. Length  Your cover letter should be no more than one page in total.

2. Font  Your font should be consistent throughout your cover letter, and you should choose a professional-looking font. Your font size should be big enough that it is easy to read when your cover letter is printed.

3. Spacing  Your cover letter should be appropriately spaced. The main body should be single-spaced, with sufficient space left between each new paragraph and section.

What to Include

There are seven sections in a cover letter.

1. Your Information  Your name and contact information should be at the top of your cover letter. Include your:

  • First and last name
  • Current residential address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

2. Date  Below your information, write the date that you are sending your cover letter.

3. Employer Information  Below the date, include the contact information of the individual, department, or company you are addressing in the cover letter. If you know the name of the individual, include their:

  • Position title
  • Company or organization name
  • Commercial address of the company or organization

If you do not know the name of the individual, include:

  • Department in charge of hiring decisions (if known)
  • Commercial address of company or organization

4. Greeting  Use a formal greeting to open your letter. If you know the name of the individual making hiring decisions, address them directly with their prefix and full name. If you don’t know the name of the individual, use a formal, generic greeting like ‘To whom it may concern,’.

5. Main Text:  There are three parts to the main text of your cover letter: the introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction  In the first paragraph of your cover letter, you should introduce yourself as a candidate . Include your first name and the position you are applying for. You can also include your post-relevant qualification and how you found the job posting. If you have a contact at the company who referred you to the job, you may want to mention him or her by name and department. Your introduction should be no more than two to three sentences.

Body  In the next couple of paragraphs, you want to convince the employer that you are the best candidate for the job position. Tell them why they should invest in you. If you’re not sure what to include, try to answer these questions:

  • What projects have you worked on that are relevant to this position? What did you learn from them? Why does this make you a better candidate?
  • What responsibilities have you held that are relevant to this position? What did you learn from them? Why does this make you a better candidate?
  • What do you intend to do if you are hired? What benefit does the employer get if he or she hires you instead of someone else?

The body of your cover letter should be one or two paragraphs.

Conclusion  The conclusion is the final paragraph in the main text of your cover letter. It is your opportunity to tell the employer how you feel about potentially working for the company, thank them for the opportunity to apply, and invite them to respond to your application. It should be no more than three or four sentences.

6. Signature  There are two parts to your cover letter signature: the closing line and your full name.

  • Closing Line  Your cover letter must include an appropriate closing line. This is the line right before your name.
  • Full Name  Your full name follows the closing line. It is not necessary to print and physically sign your cover letter since more job applications are done electronically.

Final Revision

Carefully review your cover letters to make sure you have not made any mistakes.

1. Proofread

Check your cover letter for any spelling or grammar mistakes. If possible, have someone else proofread it for you, or come back to it after a night’s sleep. Be sure that you have not made any mistakes in:

  • Your name and contact information
  • The employer’s name and contact information
  • The name of the company or organization you are applying to

2. Check Instructions

Go over any instructions for your cover letter given by the employer and make sure you have followed them carefully.

Make sure that you have the correct date on your cover letter. The date should be the day that you send your cover letter to the potential employer.

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How to write a cover letter as an international student in Canada

For most international students studying in Canada , the ultimate objective of gaining a world-class education is to set themselves up for a successful career. The knowledge, skills, and work experience you acquire during your studies, and the professional network you establish will help prepare you for the Canadian job market .

Whether you’re applying for part-time jobs while in university or college or looking for your first full-time job after graduation, you’ll need a well-written Canadian-style cover letter to accompany your resume . As you prepare to craft and customize your cover letter, you may have many questions. What does a good cover letter look like? What should you include in your cover letter if you don’t have Canadian work experience ? And is a cover letter even necessary? In this article, we provide tips and advice on how to write an impressive cover letter as an international student looking for a job in Canada.

In this article:

What is a cover letter?

Why do international students need cover letters, how should a canadian-style cover letter be structured, tips to write an impressive cover letter as an international student.

Finding Your Career in Canada

Looking for your first job after graduation? Download our guide on finding your career in Canada for tips and resources on crafting an impressive resume and cover letter, preparing for interviews, and landing a job.

A cover letter is a document you submit along with your resume as part of a job application in Canada. It allows you to introduce yourself to the hiring manager and briefly summarizes your professional qualifications and achievements. A well-written cover letter also makes a case for why you’re the right fit for the position and can convince the hiring manager to select you for an interview .

Each job is different, not just in terms of the skills and experience it requires, but also in the personality traits needed to perform it effectively. Your cover letter is your chance to show off a little personality and give the employer a glimpse into the human behind the resume.

As an international student, one of the most important things you can do to improve your employability is gather work experience while you study. If your study permit allows you to work while studying , getting a part-time job, internship, or co-op can add value to your resume. If you’re not permitted to work part-time, volunteering is another way to gain Canadian work experience.

Before you apply for part-time jobs or volunteer opportunities, you will need to craft a customized resume and cover letter. A cover letter is not a nice-to-have; it’s just as important as your resume. Although some job postings in Canada don’t specifically ask for a cover letter, including one will demonstrate your interest in the role and can help position you as a strong candidate .

After you graduate, you may be competing for full-time jobs with your Canadian counterparts who’ve likely had summer jobs since high school and have more Canadian experience to show. In such a situation, a strong cover letter can help you amplify the experience you do have and draw attention to your achievements and strengths to level the playing field.

Unlike a resume which follows a standard format and offers limited scope to tell your story, a cover letter allows you to cite examples of your academic or professional accomplishments, explain gaps in your application, and convince an employer to pick you over other candidates with similar qualifications and possibly, more Canadian experience.

A good cover letter has three key components: an opening paragraph, the body, and a closing statement. Although there are no hard rules about what each section should include, following the below guidelines will help ensure your cover letter flows smoothly and naturally.

The opening paragraph of a cover letter

The opening paragraph is where you should briefly introduce yourself and tell the employer what position you’re interested in and why. Explain why you’re enthusiastic about working with this organization or why this particular role is important to you. 

If you were referred to the role, mention your connection’s name to establish the recruiter’s trust. Your opening statement should also highlight some key skills, qualifications, or experiences that make you a good candidate for the role.

The body copy of a cover letter

The body of your cover letter showcases what you bring to the table for the employer. Use these paragraphs to dive deeper into the qualifications, skills, and experiences you mentioned in your opening paragraph. Highlight one or two noteworthy accomplishments from your part-time experience, academic projects, or volunteer experience that align with what the company is looking for. Be sure to do this in a manner that helps the recruiter visualize how your skills and past experience will translate into practice in this particular role.

Ideally, the cover letter body should include no more than three or four brief paragraphs, each focusing on one achievement or skill that’s relevant to the position.

The closing paragraph of a cover letter

You should conclude your cover letter by thanking the recruiter for considering you for the role. Your closing statement should also reinforce your interest in the position and your confidence that you’re a good candidate. Use a formal sign-off, such as “Sincerely” or “Best regards,” and include your contact information at the end.

You can also use Arrive’s resume and cover letter templates to craft an impressive job application that’s in line with what Canadian employers look for.

Canadian Resume Templates

The value of a well-drafted, customized cover letter is often underestimated by international students. A cover letter that tells your story and conveys your passion can help you stand out among equally qualified candidates and land a job. Here are some tips to help you craft an effective cover letter that will resonate with Canadian employers:

Follow a formal business letter format

Using an appropriate cover letter format will help ensure that the first impression you make on the hiring manager is a professional one. A formal business letter format includes the recipient’s name, company address, subject line, date, and a formal greeting and closing. A Canadian-style cover letter should include a call to action, such as inviting the hiring manager to contact you for more information or discuss your candidature further over an interview. 

Personalize your cover letter

You should address your cover letter to the hiring manager or recruiter (you can usually find their name in the job posting or on LinkedIn ). Avoid opening your cover letter with a generic salutation like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir or madam.” Addressing it to an actual person shows you’ve done your research and helps build that initial connection.

Don’t rewrite information already in your resume  

Think of your cover letter as precious extra space you can use to draw attention to skills, strengths, and qualifications that make you a good candidate for the job. Instead of reiterating what’s already in your resume, highlight one or two specific accomplishments that relate to the role you’re applying for. 

As an international student, you can also elaborate on how the learnings from your study program will help you in this role. Having recently completed your education can work to your advantage if you can demonstrate that your up-to-date technical skills can help a team or company evolve and keep up with market trends.

Customize your cover letter to the role

While your cover letter is your chance to tell your unique story, it’s best not to stray from what the employer seeks. Many Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) also scan cover letters, so your cover letter should include relevant keywords from the job description. Essentially, an employer wants to know if you are a good fit for the role, so make sure your highlighted strengths align with the role.

Focus on relevant transferable skills

As an international student, your relevant Canadian work experience may be limited. However, you may have acquired several transferable skills during the course of your studies and non-professional experience that can’t be adequately explained on your resume. Use your cover letter to draw connections between your transferable skills and how they’ll help you add value to this role.

For example, if you worked part-time as a barista or server, you may have picked up valuable customer service and time management skills. If you were the president of a student club, your leadership skills may give you an edge over other applicants for the job.

Highlight what makes you unique

The main objective of your cover letter is to help you stand out from the crowd. As an international student, the experience, education, and exposure you received in your home country may help you bring a fresh perspective to a Canadian organization. 

For instance, you may be knowledgeable about the work culture in other markets outside Canada, more adaptable to cultural diversity, or fluent in multiple languages. If you were part of your family business at home or worked for a few years before moving to Canada to study, you may have developed people management skills, relevant technical skills or an entrepreneurial spirit that’ll be useful in the role you’re targeting.

Focus on why you want to work for a specific company 

It’s important to articulate why you want to work for a particular company . Where possible, try to weave the information you know about the company and their work in your cover letter. This shows the hiring manager that you’re familiar with the company’s business and are invested in its success. Perhaps the organization is known for its technical expertise. Maybe you’ve used (and love) their products or find the company’s vision inspiring. Use your cover letter to express why you are passionate about the organization and role. 

Don’t list your references or share personal information

Although most Canadian employers conduct reference checks before hiring an employee, you should not include the names and contact information of your references in a Canadian-style cover letter or resume . If needed, the employer will ask you for this information after they’ve selected you for the position. You are also not supposed to include a photograph or personal information, such as your gender, sexual orientation, race, or marital status in your cover letter.

Keep your cover letter to one page 

Similar to your resume, it’s best to keep your cover letter short and to the point. Feel free to show off more of your personality, but within the confines of what we covered above.

Proofread your cover letter

Always proofread your cover letter before submitting it. Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors can draw the recruiter’s attention away from your achievements and cast doubts on your attention to detail and language skills. It’s also a good idea to have a friend or mentor review your cover letter to make sure it conveys the intended message in a crisp, logical, and impressive way. Also double-check the hiring manager’s name, the company details, as well as your contact information, so the employer can easily reach you if you’re shortlisted for an interview.

As an international student looking for part-time or full-time jobs in Canada, you should familiarize yourself with a Canadian-style cover letter before your job search. A customized cover letter gives you an opportunity to highlight your strengths and achievements and make a strong case for why the organization should hire you.

Things our lawyers want you to know

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.

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is cover letter necessary in canada

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  1. Should You Always Include A Cover Letter Database

    is cover letter necessary in canada

  2. Canadian Cover Letter Format and Template (6 Writing Tips)

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  4. Cover Letter Sample Canada

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  5. Resume Cover Letter Cover Letter Template Editable Cover

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  6. 9+ Unique Canadian Cover Letter Sample

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  1. How to make Canadian resume and Cover letter.কিভাবে কানাডিয়ান স্টাইলে সিভি এবং কভার লেটার লিখবেন।

  2. Best cover letter for Canada which will impress visa officer definitely give u Visa

  3. Canada Immigration Letter of Explanation

  4. Canada Startup Visa Letter of Support

  5. Canadain Based Resume and Cover Letter 🇨🇦


  1. How Do You Send a Letter From the United States to Canada?

    Send a letter from the United States to Canada using the First-Class Mail International option provided by U.S. Postal Service. The cost of sending a letter to Canada is slightly more than sending it within the United States.

  2. How Many Stamps Do I Need to Send a Letter to Canada?

    If you have a friend or family member living north of the United States, chances are you’ve wondered about postage to Canada. So, how many stamps do you need to mail a letter to Canada? Generally, it takes three regular postage stamps to ma...

  3. How Much Postage Is Required to Mail a Letter From Texas to Vancouver, Canada?

    The U.S. postage required to mail a first-class letter from Texas to Vancouver, Canada is $1.15, according to the United States Postal Service. This rate only applies to letters weighing up to 2 ounces.

  4. Is a Cover Letter Necessary? Reasons to Include One

    A cover letter is necessary for your job application because it gives the employer or hiring manager a more rounded description of your

  5. Are Cover Letters Still Relevant?

    According to Tara, it is always useful to create a formal cover letter. “Although you may decide not to include a copy with your application, it forces you to

  6. How to write the perfect cover letter for Canada

    Don't forget that you will need two documents — a resume and cover letter — for a successful job application in Canada. Keep your resume brief

  7. Are cover letters still relevant?

    Creative, marketing, PR or content/communications roles pretty much always require a cover letter. It's the nature of the beast. We polled some

  8. Canadian Cover Letter Guide

    Cover letters are essential in the hiring process as they provide candidates with the opportunity to introduce themselves, demonstrate their qualifications, and

  9. The Power of Cover Letters for Newcomers in Canada

    The answer is, Yes, you need to craft a cover letter and attach it even if it is not required. No alt text provided for this image. What is a

  10. When Should You Include a Cover Letter? (With Tips)

    Canada · Help Centre. Start of main content. Career Guide · Finding a ... Is a Cover Letter Necessary? Reasons to Include One. Explore jobs

  11. Are cover letters still a thing?

    Cover letters are not mandated by law, but companies do ask employees to provide a cover letter. Cover letters allow recruiters and hiring

  12. Is cover letter really necessary when applying for jobs?

    If the job posting asks for a cover letter, then yes it is required. It's another hoop to jump through when applying for anything remotely

  13. Why you Should Canadianize Your Resume and Cover Letter

    It is integral that your resume can meet Canadian standards, so you are taken seriously as a potential job candidate. Too many personal details

  14. How to write a cover letter as an international student in Canada

    Each job is different, not just in terms of the skills and experience it requires, but also in the personality traits needed to perform it