Yes, always send a cover letter to an employer unless they specifically ask you NOT to (sorry, but a rarity). A cover letter gives you the opportunity to convey how perfect YOU are for the job AND to tell them why you want to work for THEM, since your resume does not explicitly state this. When writing a cover letter, keep it to three SHORT paragraphs:
1. Why Them?
• To make it easy on the recruiter, clearly state the position you are applying for first.
• Make the company feel special. Out of all the companies in the world, why are you choosing to apply to this one? You can discuss their active community involvement, products, and/or the latest news about the company.
2. Why You?
• Highlight your major accomplishments as they relate to the position (match your skills to the job description). If the position requires knowledge of Java, then discuss your two years of experience using Java. Do not simply repeat your resume, but overview how your credentials come together for this particular position.
3. Follow up.
• Let the employer know that YOU (yes, I said YOU) will follow up with them within the week or on an exact day to answer any questions. This lets the employer know you are taking responsibility and not sitting around waiting for them to call you.
• Thank them for their time and consideration.
Trust me, I have groaned about writing cover letters, too. However, it will NEVER EVER hurt you to write one, and the benefits may just land you the job. The first paragraph will require a little custom work for each new company, but often the second and third paragraphs just need a little tweaking if you are applying to similar positions. The key aspects of the letter are to 1) sell the company on the fact that you are the best candidate for the job, and 2) make the company feel extraordinary. And for the love of goodness, keep it short and have someone proofread it first!