Yes, if a job ad states that a cover letter is optional, it is safe to assume it is not compulsory to include one.
However, including a cover letter will give you a huge advantage over applicants that choose not to send one (and perhaps the hiring manager is trying to keep their admin down by making them optional as they are expecting a lots of applicants).
We recommend that you should always make the time and invest the effort into writing a cover letter. There is no doubt that applicants who include a cover letter will stand out for the following reasons:
- Showcase your personality
- Showcase your writing skills
- Display your enthusiasm for this particular job or organisation
- Provide evidence and a back story to illustrate your significant achievements
- Explain work gaps or COVID related stand downs that might stand out on your resume
Most importantly, this is the perfect opportunity to prove that you are willing to go above and beyond and do the things that aren’t expected of you in order to do the best job possible. This alone will put you ahead of the pack.