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Essential Do’s and Don’ts of Cover Letter Writing

A well-written cover letter adds a personal, humanistic touch to your résumé. It coveys the message that you are a serious, professional candidate who knows what proper business etiquette is. Cover letters also demonstrate your written communication skills. They do so even better than their companion résumés as cover letters are written with standard sentences in the way that we really speak.

  • Cover letters are to be included every time you traditionally mail or email your résumé—even if a job advertisement simply says “send résumé” without mentioning a cover letter.
  • When sending your résumé via e-mail attachment, your cover letter can either be attached as a separate document, just like your résumé, or your cover letter can be cut and pasted to form the ‘body’ of that e-mail. I recommend the latter, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
  • Create a short paragraph stating what job you are interested in and tell the employer some of your key qualifications. Do not type the date or an inside address on the e-mail screen. If you can include your signature electronically, do so.
  • Detective work to unearth the name of the hiring manager is a good idea. This enables you to address cover letters more personally.
  • Never start your letter by saying “My name is _______.” There is also no need to reiterate your telephone number in the last paragraph. Both your name and number are visible at the top of the page in the header area.
  • Watch out for repetitive language. Don’t start too many sentences with the word “I.”

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