Yes. but there are exceptions.
Whether you are applying on-line, through a recruitment company or directly you should attach a cover letter.
With job search websites such as Reed and Monster, there is the option to upload a cover letter and it is worth investing in doing so as most people would think twice about uploading one, thinking who would read it anyway and it’s a bit of hassle having to write one.
If there is an option of you to add a cover letter then definitely add one. Some websites will allow you to upload and store more than one, so you can tailor and attach the most relevant cover letter for the position you would like to apply for.
Writing a good cover letter does take a bit of extra time and the employer would know this and it can only work in your favour. Its never going to hinder your chances of getting an interview but by not writing one you have missed an opportunity to connect to the company.
Of course, some people skim over them and go straight to your C.V and look at your current position and how long you have been there, but what you are doing is taking every opportunity to get noticed which is a good thing. You are maximising your chances of getting that interview!
What should you write? as a recruiter I have seen many cover letters and if it is well written and spell checked it can certainly set you apart from the rest, I have also seen many badly written ones, one liners that simply say “please consider me for the job”.
This is where you can add information about yourself that is not on your C.V, you can write about why you are interested in the role, why you like the company, what a good fit you would be, if you have accomplished anything that relates in someway to the job role or company, or even if you follow them on social media.
This does not mean you have to go in to great detail and whittle on about irrelevant things. It is a good skill to be able to write a short summary about yourself and incorporating why you would be good candidate for the company to interview.
Now, the exception is, some companies will just ask for C.V’s only and that’s fine, they might be expecting a high number of applicants or short are on time so respect what the company have asked for.
Unless the job advert or company specifies not to send a cover letter, I would always advise on sending one.