Essential Do’s and Don’ts of Cover Letter Writing
A well-written cover letter adds a personal, humanistic touch to your resume. It coveys the message that you are a serious, professional candidate. Cover letters also demonstrate your written communication skills. They do so even better than your accompanying resume as cover letters are written with standard sentences more aligned with the way we actually speak.
For almost all types of positions, a cover letter is expected. Send it along with each resume—even if a job advertisement simply says “send resume” without mentioning a cover letter. Sometimes a short cover note works well instead of a full cover letter. Short cover notes are sent in the body of an email message with the resume attached. For a cover note, concisely state what job you are interested in and tell the employer some of your key qualifications.
- For a longer, more traditional approach, your cover letter can either be attached as a separate document, just like your resume, or your cover letter can be cut and pasted to form the ‘body’ of the e-mail. I recommend the latter, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.
- When you send a cover letter or a cover note within the body of an email, do not type the date or 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.
- Watch out for repetitive language. Don’t start too many sentences with the word “I.”
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