Cover Letter Do’s and Don’ts


Writing your cover letter can be tricky for job seekers. You want to keep things professional, you don’t want to come across as desperate, and most of all you want the person reading it to pick up the phone and call you.

Here are some quick tips for you as you work on your next cover letter. And remember, you should be writing a new letter for each job you apply to – customize each one for the position and the company.

Cover Letter Do’s

  • Do know your cover letter’s purpose. It should focus solely on getting the hiring manager to read your resume. The resume’s purpose, then, is to get you an interview. The interview gets you the job.
  • Do address the letter to a specific person. Find out who the hiring manager is for the position. This can be a challenge, depending on the size of the company, but every effort should be made to avoid the dreaded, “To Whom It May Concern.”
  • Do let them know what job you’re applying for. You don’t have to start out the letter with a boring statement (i.e. “I am writing in response to the opening for an assistant manager”), but you do want to let them know why you are contacting them. Find a more creative and interesting way to say it.

Cover Letter Don’ts

  • Don’t rehash your resume in your cover letter. Your resume should list your skills and accomplishments, and so should your cover letter. However, don’t just list the same things from your resume in your cover letter. Instead, expand on some aspect that you really want to highlight.
  • Don’t attach a cover letter to an email – the email IS your cover letter. When applying for a position, you’ll often send an email to the hiring manager or recruiter with your resume attached. There is no need to attach a cover letter as well. Simply use the email you send as your cover letter.
  • Don’t get too quirky. You’ve got a personality and you want that to show through, but it is notoriously hard to express yourself in written form – especially in professional documents like resumes and cover letters. Your personality will come through in your interview, you don’t have to force it into your cover letter.

If you’re struggling to get your cover letter just right, let me know. I would be happy to give feedback and help you get it just right.

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