The Importance of the Cover Letter

hands typing on a laptop

After putting together a concise resume, the job seeker needs to sit down and write a cover letter.

The goal of a cover letter is to tell your story, to tell a hiring manager that you are more than just your CV or resume. A cover letter is also an opportunity for you to share your professional goals and help explain how the position to which you are applying would be a part of your career.

“Cover letters make a difference, even short ones,” Susan Adams writes in “How to Write a Cover Letter,” an article published in Forbes magazine. “Don’t ever send a boilerplate.”

Adams advises applicants to use the first line of the cover letter to mention a mutual contact, establish a relationship with the organization. She advises applicants to use a more formal style of writing instead of abbreviations and acronyms, and to proofread the letter carefully.

Adams says experts like cover letters in which the applicant names the job he wants early on and provides a brief summary of his career and accomplishments. A good letter will also provide additional context to an applicant’s resume, which lists experiences and achievements. Though a cover letter should be somewhat formal and respectful, it does not need to be boring. The cover letter is an opportunity to explain why you are interested in a specific position or a specific sector, which a resume will not include.

The letter should end with a request for a meeting and when the applicant plans to get in touch. The application is the first step, and a cover letter is an important part of the package. By establishing a follow-up request, applicants can express active interest in moving forward with the application process.

And, importantly, Adams says, cover letters of less than one page — or about four paragraphs — are best.