Do’s and Don’ts of Cover Letters

Job Search

You should use a cover letter whenever you apply for a job. Usually, companies ask you to also send a cover letter in addition to your resume so they can have a better idea about your personal brand, skills and experience as well as what you are looking for and what values you can bring to the company.

A cover letter is usually three paragraphs. The first is an opening paragraph in which you introduce yourself and state why you are applying for this position. The second paragraph is the body of the letter, and it is the most important part of a cover letter which you can show your personal brand. This paragraph lists your experience related to the job you are applying for, why you think you’re a good candidate for that position, and what values you can bring to the company. The third, closing paragraph is where you give the reader a call to action. You state your phone number and e-mail address so the person reading the letter can follow up with you. Keep in mind that a great cover letter is usually less than one page.

It is important to always have a different cover letter for each application. You shouldn’t be generic. You should be very specific about the job you are applying for to show that you are a good fit for that position; that you are truly interested in working in that position; and that you will bring more experience to that company because employers are looking for what values you can bring to their company. You can certainly have a general cover letter template, but I recommend that you edit that template for each position you are applying for to tailor it for that position.

Let me tell you a story regarding a candidate who applied for a position in my friend’s office.  My friend said “The person who applied to our office was denied, with good qualifications, because she did not change the address and the organization in her cover letter. She applied to another company and she sent the same letter to us without changing the name of the organization.”

This is one of the most common mistakes made by job seekers. They usually send out so many applications that sometimes they forget to update their cover letters according to the position that they are applying for. Always have a final check of your applications before hitting the send button.

Also, making a cover letter generic is a big mistake because most job seekers usually prepare one cover letter and send it off with every job application. You should make your cover letter very specific to the job description. Also, a cover letter shouldn’t be too long or too short—you should find the appropriate size.