20 Cover Letter Dos and Don'ts

20 Cover Letter Dos and Don'ts

Ah, the cover letter. For some, it’s a blank canvas of opportunity; for others, it’s a daunting task that feels like pulling teeth. Regardless of which camp you’re in, writing an effective cover letter can significantly boost your chances of landing that dream job. Let’s break it down with 20 essential dos and don’ts to guide you through the process.

Cover Letter Dos

  1. Do Personalize Each Letter
    • Why It Matters: Employers can spot a generic cover letter from a mile away. Tailoring your letter to the specific job and company shows that you’ve put in the effort to understand their needs.
    • How to Do It: Mention the company's name, the position you’re applying for, and specific details about the company that excite you. For instance, “I am particularly impressed by [Company’s] commitment to innovation in renewable energy…”
  2. Do Address the Hiring Manager
    • Why It Matters: Personalizing the greeting shows respect and initiative.
    • How to Do It: If the job posting doesn’t include the hiring manager’s name, do a little research. Check the company’s website, LinkedIn, or even call the company to ask.
  3. Do Highlight Relevant Experience
    • Why It Matters: Recruiters are looking for candidates who meet their specific needs. Showcasing your relevant experience helps them see you as a strong fit.
    • How to Do It: Focus on your most relevant experiences and achievements. Use bullet points to make these stand out, and connect them directly to the job requirements.
  4. Do Be Concise
    • Why It Matters: Hiring managers are busy. A concise cover letter respects their time and ensures your main points aren’t lost.
    • How to Do It: Stick to a one-page format. Use clear, direct language and avoid unnecessary fluff. Each paragraph should have a clear purpose and contribute to your overall message.
  5. Do Show Enthusiasm
    • Why It Matters: Genuine enthusiasm can make you stand out from other applicants. It shows you’re passionate about the role and the company.
    • How to Do It: Use positive language and express your excitement about the opportunity. For example, “I am thrilled at the prospect of joining [Company] because…”
  6. Do Use Keywords
    • Why It Matters: Many companies use ATS to filter applications. Using the right keywords ensures your cover letter gets seen by human eyes.
    • How to Do It: Review the job description and incorporate relevant keywords naturally into your cover letter. Focus on skills, qualifications, and experiences mentioned in the posting.
  7. Do Tell a Story
    • Why It Matters: Stories are memorable and can make your cover letter more engaging. They provide context and demonstrate your qualifications in action.
    • How to Do It: Share a brief, relevant story that highlights a key skill or accomplishment. For example, describe a specific project where you solved a problem or achieved a significant result.
  8. Do Proofread Thoroughly
    • Why It Matters: Spelling and grammar mistakes can undermine your professionalism and attention to detail.
    • How to Do It: Proofread your cover letter multiple times. Consider reading it out loud or using a tool like Grammarly. Having someone else review it can also help catch errors you might miss.
  9. Do Include a Call to Action
    • Why It Matters: A strong closing encourages the recruiter to take the next step.
    • How to Do It: End with a paragraph that includes your availability for an interview and your contact information. For example, “I would love the opportunity to discuss how my experience aligns with [Company’s] needs. Please feel free to contact me at [phone number] or [email].”
  10. Do Highlight Cultural Fit
    • Why It Matters: Companies look for candidates who will fit well with their culture. Showing that you align with their values and mission can give you an edge.
    • How to Do It: Research the company’s culture and values. Mention specific aspects of the company that resonate with you and explain why. For example, “I am particularly drawn to [Company’s] commitment to community service, as I have volunteered extensively with local charities.”

Cover Letter Don’ts

  1. Don’t Use a Generic Template
    • Why It Matters: Generic cover letters can make you seem lazy or uninterested in the specific role.
    • How to Avoid It: Create a unique cover letter for each application. While you can reuse some content, make sure each letter is tailored to the job and company.
  2. Don’t Rehash Your Resume
    • Why It Matters: Your cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it.
    • How to Avoid It: Use the cover letter to provide context and highlight your most relevant achievements. Explain how your experiences make you a perfect fit for the job.
  3. Don’t Be Overly Formal or Informal
    • Why It Matters: Striking the right tone is important for making a positive impression.
    • How to Avoid It: Use professional language, but don’t be overly stiff. Avoid slang or overly casual language. Aim for a tone that’s professional yet approachable.
  4. Don’t Use Clichés
    • Why It Matters: Phrases like “I’m a hard worker” or “I’m a team player” are overused and don’t add much value.
    • How to Avoid It: Be specific about your skills and accomplishments. Provide concrete examples that demonstrate your abilities.
  5. Don’t Neglect Formatting
    • Why It Matters: A poorly formatted cover letter can be off-putting and difficult to read.
    • How to Avoid It: Use a clean, professional format with consistent font and spacing. Avoid excessive formatting like bold or italics. Make sure your cover letter is easy to read.
  6. Don’t Lie or Exaggerate
    • Why It Matters: Honesty is crucial. Lying or exaggerating your qualifications can come back to haunt you later in the hiring process.
    • How to Avoid It: Be truthful about your experience and skills. If you’re caught lying, it could cost you the job and damage your reputation.
  7. Don’t Focus on What the Company Can Do for You
    • Why It Matters: While it’s fine to express your enthusiasm, avoid making the letter about how the job will benefit you.
    • How to Avoid It: Focus on what you can bring to the company. Explain how your skills and experience will help them achieve their goals.
  8. Don’t Include Irrelevant Information
    • Why It Matters: Stick to information that’s pertinent to the job you’re applying for.
    • How to Avoid It: Avoid including personal hobbies or unrelated job experiences. Focus on information that shows you’re a strong candidate for the role.
  9. Don’t Forget to Follow Instructions
    • Why It Matters: Following instructions shows attention to detail and respect for the hiring process.
    • How to Avoid It: Carefully read the job posting and follow any specific instructions for the cover letter. If they ask for specific information or a particular format, make sure to comply.
  10. Don’t Send It Without a Test Read
    • Why It Matters: Reading your cover letter out loud can help you catch awkward phrasing or errors you might miss when reading silently.
    • How to Avoid It: Before sending, read your cover letter out loud. This can help you catch any issues and ensure it flows smoothly.

Creating the perfect cover letter can be challenging, but with MajorGen, it doesn't have to be. MajorGen uses advanced AI algorithms to analyze job descriptions and craft personalized cover letters that highlight your strengths and experiences. It helps you incorporate the right keywords, maintain a professional tone, and ensure your cover letter is tailored to each job application.

Ready to elevate your job application?