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How to Write a Cover Letter – Do’s and Don’ts

How to Write a Cover Letter – Do’s and Don’ts

I’ve seen a lot of cover letters throughout my career – the good and the not so good. Cover letters have made a comeback and are a critical part of any job application. Which is why you need to know what you should and shouldn’t do when writing one. Follow these simple tips to ramp up your cover letter and help you achieve success in your job hunt. 



Do write a cover letter

Cover letters are your first impression to a potential employer. They complement your resume by expanding on your skills and experience. If a job advertisement has selection criteria they want answered, the cover letter is the place for you to do that. Writing a cover letter also shows a company that you’re willing to go the extra mile. 


Do talk about your skills

The whole point of a cover letter is to expand upon your resume and give real life examples of how, with your abilities and experience you’ll be able to do the job. Including examples of skills such as communication, time-management or interpersonal skills as well as specific skills required for the job are essential in securing yourself an interview. 


Do address your letter to the hiring manager

Take the time to find out who is hiring for the position. Including the person’s name will show your tenacity for the job and make you stand out from competitors. 


Do get your cover letter and resume checked by a professional– Having a second pair of eyes on anything you’ve written is a good idea. There is of course the bonus of having a professional review your cover letter who has knowledge about the industry and what companies are looking for. It also takes the stress out of wondering if you’ve done a good job. 


Do research the employer– A company will usually ask you what you know about them in the interview. It’s a wise decision to do some research about a company, their values and aspirations and mention how your skills and experience can accommodate them in your cover letter. 


Don’t send a generic cover letter to every company

It might seem like hard work to write a different cover letter for every job. However, hiring managers look at dozens if not hundreds of applications a week that all start to look the same. Through writing distinctive cover letters for each job you’ll be able to engage them straight away and show that you’ve researched and understood their company ethics and objectives.  


Don’t make it too long

A cover letter more than one page is too long and it will probably end up in the bin. Employers have hundreds of resumes and cover letters to look over for one job. They want to briefly see if you’re capable of the job and a good fit for the company. Keeping a cover letter short, entertaining and engaging will certainly land you onto the shortlist. 


Don’t put false information

In the spur of the moment it might seem tempting to put false information on your cover letter or resume when applying for a job that you love. There might be one or two requirements that you are lacking the skills and experience for. This can be frustrating especially when you believe you would have gotten it otherwise. However, the short term gains you might make in landing a job interview could have serious consequences later in your career when they find out you can’t do the job. 


Don’t have spelling or grammatical errors

There is nothing worse than bad grammar and silly spelling mistakes. Your cover letter will probably be the first time a potential employer has heard of you. You don’t want to send a bad first impression by showing that you don’t check your work.


Don’t repeat your resume

A cover letter is there to add context and expand upon your resume. A list of skills doesn’t have much significance unless given with an example of how you have applied them to specific situations. A cover letter is also a way of making your application personal to the company and showing why you’re interested in working for them. 


Through following these simple tips you’ll be on track to writing an original and captivating cover letter. Not only will it get you onto the short list but it will create a good first impression for potential employers before they have even met you. If you are struggling with writing your cover letter and making it personal you’re not alone. Seeking help from a career advisor such as myself will give you the confidence to go forward in writing other cover letters but also help you land that all important interview. 

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