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13 Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts

Cover letters can be the deciding factor between getting called for an interview or being passed up for another candidate who submitted something better. To make sure your cover letter helps you land the interview, keep these do's and don’ts in mind when you're writing:

  • Do create a personalized cover letter for every company and position.
  • Do take the time to find out the hiring manager's name, and open the letter with a proper greeting.
  • Do identify the position you're applying for, including the job code or reference number (if there is one).
  • Do maintain a confident, enthusiastic tone.
  • Do proofread repeatedly (typos and grammatical mistakes are a huge turn-off)!
  • Do ask someone you trust to critique and proofread your cover letter.
  • Do end with a statement of intent (e.g., I will be in touch on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of an interview).

     
  • Don't go beyond one page. In most cases, three or four paragraphs are enough to tell your story.
  • Don't try to be cute. Humor is subjective; it can make you seem unprofessional rather than personable.
  • Don't resort to cliches, exaggerations, or false flattery.
  • Don’t assume spell-check will catch all errors!
  • Don't simply repeat claims you made in your resume. Instead, highlight the most impressive accomplishments from your resume and describe the story behind them.
  • Don't forget to change the recipient's name and company name for each cover letter you write!

Can you think of anything else that belongs on this list? Leave it in a comment!

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