Cover Letter Do's and Dont's

No one loves the job hunt. Searching through online job listings, jazzing up your résumé, prepping for gruelling interviews — none of it is fun. For many, the most challenging part of the process is writing an effective cover letter. There’s so much conflicting advice out there, it’s hard to know where to start. Do you even need one, especially if you’re applying through an online system?

The answer is almost always yes. Some times online applications will not ask for one but whenever possible, send one. It’s your best shot at grabbing the attention of any hiring manager or HR person. It can also be a way of showing your unique abilities and setting yourself apart from others.

The Harvard Business Review says to remember these basic principles of Cover Letter writing:


  • Have a strong opening statement that makes clear why you want the job and what you bring to the table.
  • Keep it short and be succinct — a hiring manager should be able to read your letter at a glance.
  • Share an accomplishment that shows you can address the challenges the employer is facing.

Be careful with:

  • Humour – Trying to be funny on a cover letter is a risk and can often fall flat.


  • Send a generic cover letter — customize each one for the specific job.
  • Focus on the past – your resume is what should convey your past accomplishments, keep your cover letter as a look to the future.
  • Go overboard with flattery — be professional and mature.


RELATED: Free Resume Template

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