What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?

by | Nov 9, 2021

A strong cover letter is a crucial part of a successful job application. While a resume covers your technical and professional background, the cover letter is what makes a first impression on potential employers. 


A cover letter is your chance to set the tone for the rest of your application, an opportunity to explain your work history, and display your enthusiasm for the job.  




Tell Hiring Personnel Who You Are


Your cover letter needs to address who you are and why you are right for the job. It should answer why you are interested in the job, how you qualify, and what you are hoping to accomplish with the company. It should supply the hiring manager with a positive narrative that the rest of your application will build upon. 




Features of an Effective Cover Letter




Tailored to the job and company

Every job application requires a unique cover letter. To frame yourself as the ideal candidate for a job, you need to know the job requirements and the company’s culture. 


If the job description focuses on customer service, emphasize your soft skills and experience in communication and conflict resolution. Highlight your relevant skill set in the first paragraph of the cover letter. 


Read through the company’s website and take note of its mission statement and recent media. You can include how you relate to the company’s purpose when addressing why you want the job. This attention to detail will set you apart from other job seekers.



Short and professional appearance

Your cover letter must not exceed one page. It should include your contact information and be easy to read, using short sentences and paragraphs. If you struggle to structure your cover letter, you can use a free cover letter template


The cover letter is your chance to show your written communication skills, so make it error-free. Proofread it multiple times and do so once out loud. This helps you hear any mistakes that you miss when proofreading silently. 



Write in a confident tone


Use the tone of the cover letter to appear confident. The writing elements that establish a confident tone are active voice, short sentences, and numbers. 


Active voice is a sentence organization that has the subject act upon a verb. Short sentences instill confidence into the text by making ideas sound concise and clear. 


Numbers are easily understandable and convey information more accurately than adverbs or qualifiers. For instance, if you say you are a server for 55 tables a night, others know exactly what your work experience as a server is. If you say, you serve many tables every night, hiring managers are unsure what your experience means.



Name drop

If you know someone in the company who alerted you to the potential job, mention the referral in the cover letter. Before an interview, this will be your only chance to alert the hiring manager to your connection to the company. This information helps the hiring manager understand why you want to be a part of the company. 


Mention the referral within the first paragraph and expand briefly on how you know the person and why they think you might be the right candidate for the job. 




Explain Your Work History


Employers want to know how your work experience relates to the job you are seeking. If you constantly change jobs or have large gaps in work history, you will need to explain why this is the case. A cover letter is an opportunity to stop the hiring manager from rejecting your application due to uncertainty over your work ethic or job history. 


You should write your explanation in the middle paragraph of the cover letter. The first paragraph needs to address why you will be good for the job, and the last paragraph summarizes and includes a call to action about the position. That leaves the middle paragraph as your space to address your work history. Keep it short, simple, and honest.




A Call to Action Leads to Interviews



After two or three short paragraphs, you should have established why you are an ideal candidate by discussing your qualifications and displaying your written communication skills. Now finish the letter with a call to action that cements your goal. 


A call to action is a direction the hiring manager can follow to further you in the hiring process. This is a good time to include your contact information and let them know when you are available for an interview. When you end a cover letter with a call to action, you show initiative.




Find the Right Job for You and Apply Today


Your cover letter is your first impression on a hiring manager and a tone-setter for the rest of your application. For the best chance at securing an interview, create a positive narrative, write with a confident tone, and tailor the letter to the job and company.

The easy-to-use job search tool on Jobsfuel.com can help you find your dream job. You can also visit our blogs to learn more about how to write a cover letter, and become a great resume writer and interviewee.