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The traditional guidance I've found regarding cover letters says that one should include:

  • Biographical information
  • Which position I'm applying for

However, if I'm applying for a job online, through a platform that asks specifically for biographical information in a separate form and has the job information in the page title, is this still necessary? It seems like the reader will probably have this information at hand; will it make me look oblivious to redundantly include it?

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is this still necessary? It seems like the reader will probably have this information at hand; will it make me look oblivious to redundantly include it?

It's not absolutely necessary, but it would be smart to treat the cover letter as if you were supplying it in the complete absence of the website.

You never know what the reader will look at, or have access to. In some cases, information is printed, and the printouts are handed over to the hiring manager (I know, this sounds silly, but I have seen it happen with my own eyes.)

If you write a great cover letter, with information about you, about the position you are seeking, how well you fit, and how excited you are to talk to the company about it - it will never be looked upon poorly.

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    +1 for "you never know what the reader will look at, or have access to." Those online application softwares are totally dinosaurs, and any recruiter worth his salt will toss everything but the resume out the window. He'll glance over it and within 10 seconds make a decision to throw it away or give you a call. I've never done a cover letter unless asked explicitly to do so by a recruiter/hiring manager, and it hasn't seemed to harm me. In the engineering world, at least, nobody bothers to look at them. – Caleb Jay Sep 9 '15 at 20:48
  • I'd also add that writing a cover letter that tailors your experience to the role you're are applying for shows a willingness to put in the effort. If someone just adds a generic CV for a role I'm hiring for, my first thought is did they just randomly submitted applications for 20 jobs without bothering to read the requirements in the hope that someone will respond. – Jane S Sep 9 '15 at 21:25
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    Accepted this, for the point that "If you write a great cover letter... it will never be looked upon poorly." – mfrankli Sep 10 '15 at 14:12
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A cover letter should be a taster for the CV/resume. Should try to link the role to your experiences and encourage the reader to read the CV. I should be quite should say three or maybe four paragraphs and read in under two minutes.

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I always have a habit of including a cover letter with my CV/resume. A cover letter serves as an introduction to the resume. Resumes in general aren’t sent without one. It demonstrates the person’s interest in the organization, draws attention to the CV/resume and motivates the prospective employer to interview the candidate. A neat and clean, well written, and concise cover letter can make the prospective employer read your resume with great interest and can improve your chances of getting the job.

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