Cover Letter Advice Worth Heeding

Nancy Anderson
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Many job seekers underestimate the power of a well-crafted cover letter in the job application process. A cover letter is your chance to make a great first impression on your potential future employer and show your personal strengths. Follow these tips to make sure your cover letters are an asset and not a hindrance during your job search.

Get Off the Template Treadmill

Many first-time job seekers rely on cover letter templates to walk them through the process of writing a cover letter. To make your letter stand out, drop the templates. Instead, write an interesting letter tailored to the specific position to capture the reader's attention and keep them reading until the end. Focus on the job requirements, and show how your specific skills and experience meet the company's needs. Do not be afraid to let your personality shine through.

Be Honest

Honesty is always the best policy. If your qualifications aren't quite right for the job, your cover letter is the perfect place to explain how you are still a great candidate. Instead of telling half-truths, let the reader know where your real strengths lie and how you plan to benefit the company in the advertised position.

Show Your Enthusiasm

Without sounding needy, let the reader know that you really want the position. A custom letter gives you the chance to share what you know about the company and how you specifically fit into the organization. Because it is important to keep the letter short, make sure that each sentence provides valuable information about your desire and fit for the job.

Avoid Negotiations

A cover letter is not the right place to list your demands or salary qualifications. Even if the company asks for your salary requirements, a simple statement that it is negotiable should suffice. Keep the letter focused on what you can provide not what you want. Save any necessary negotiations for the job interview.


Everyone knows that typos, grammar mistakes and misspelled words make you look bad, but proper proofreading goes beyond the basics. While rereading your cover letter, put yourself into the hiring manager's shoes. Is this a letter that you would read through to the end? Is it interesting? Would you offer the writer an interview? What things in the letter make you stand out as the right person for the job? If the letter does not stand up to your scrutiny, rework it until you are satisfied.

The cover letter is a valuable part of the job application process. Avoid having yours pushed to the side or even worse, thrown into the garbage. Make it interesting, keep it short, and let your skills, experience and attitude shine to land an interview and get the job.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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