The importance of a well-crafted cover letter in the job search process cannot be overstated. With LinkedIn stating that cover letters are still relevant and crucial in the modern-day job search, understanding the dos and don'ts of cover letter writing is essential for job seekers to create compelling and successful applications. This article will provide clear and specific advice on what to include and avoid, as well as actionable tips and examples to guide you in crafting the perfect cover letter.

Through research and expert opinions, we will explore employer expectations for cover letters and how to meet those expectations. Whether you're a seasoned professional or a recent graduate, this guide will help you navigate the complexities of cover letter writing and increase your chances of landing that dream job.

Cover Letter Dos

To create an effective cover letter, job seekers must follow these essential dos:

  1. Tailor the cover letter to the specific position and company
  2. Showcase your unique personality and skills
  3. Sell yourself by highlighting your accomplishments and qualifications
  4. Demonstrate your knowledge of the company and industry
  5. Use a professional tone and proper formatting

By adhering to these guidelines, you will be well on your way to crafting a standout cover letter that catches the attention of hiring managers.

Cover Letter Don'ts

Avoiding these common don'ts will help your cover letter stand out for the right reasons:

  1. Generic salutations like "To Whom It May Concern"
  2. Submitting a generic cover letter for multiple positions
  3. Summarizing your resume instead of providing new information
  4. Making confessions about your shortcomings or lack of experience
  5. Exceeding one page in length

Steering clear of these pitfalls will ensure your cover letter leaves a positive impression on potential employers.

Tailoring Your Cover Letter

Customizing your cover letter for each position is crucial to demonstrate your genuine interest and relevance to the job. According to Coursera, your cover letter should be about a half page to one page long, or about 250 to 400 words. To tailor your cover letter effectively, consider the following steps:

  1. Research the company and job requirements
  2. Identify keywords and phrases to include
  3. Address the specific needs of the position and employer
  4. Highlight relevant skills and experiences
  5. Ensure your cover letter reflects the company culture

For example, if you're applying for a marketing position at a tech company, you might write:

"As a tech-savvy marketer with experience in driving user engagement through innovative social media campaigns, I was thrilled to see the opening for a Marketing Coordinator at XYZ Tech. I am confident that my passion for cutting-edge technology and proven track record in increasing brand awareness make me an ideal candidate for this role."

By tailoring your cover letter in this manner, you demonstrate your genuine interest in the position and company while showcasing your relevant skills and experiences.

Showcasing Your Personality

Letting your unique qualities shine through in your cover letter will help you stand out from other applicants. To effectively showcase your personality, consider the following tips:

  1. Use an engaging and authentic writing style
  2. Share anecdotes or personal stories
  3. Express your enthusiasm for the position and company
  4. Demonstrate your values and passions
  5. Avoid clichés and overused phrases

For instance, you might share a brief anecdote that highlights your creativity and problem-solving skills:

"When I was tasked with increasing our team's efficiency, I realized that our current project management system was outdated and cumbersome. I took the initiative to research and implement a new system that streamlined our workflow, resulting in a 25% increase in productivity. My colleagues appreciated my proactive approach, and our team's success reaffirmed my passion for finding innovative solutions to everyday challenges."

By incorporating your personality into your cover letter, you create a memorable impression on the hiring manager and increase your chances of being invited for an interview.

Selling Yourself

Effectively promoting your skills and achievements in your cover letter will demonstrate your value to potential employers. To successfully sell yourself, follow these guidelines:

  1. Highlight your most relevant accomplishments
  2. Quantify your success with numbers and metrics
  3. Showcase your transferable skills
  4. Discuss your potential impact on the company
  5. Provide examples of previous challenges and successes

For example, if you're applying for a sales position, you might write:

"In my previous role as a Sales Representative, I consistently exceeded my monthly quota by 15% and was recognized as the top performer for three consecutive quarters. My ability to build strong relationships with clients and identify their needs allowed me to generate $1.5 million in new business last year. I am confident that my sales expertise and customer-centric approach would make a significant impact on your company's growth."

By effectively selling yourself in your cover letter, you demonstrate your potential value to the employer and set yourself apart from other candidates.

Formatting and Length

A well-formatted and concise cover letter is more likely to be read and appreciated by potential employers. To ensure your cover letter meets these criteria, follow these tips:

  1. Use a clean and professional format
  2. Ensure your cover letter is easy to read with proper spacing and font size
  3. Limit your cover letter to one page
  4. Break up large blocks of text with bullet points or short paragraphs
  5. Proofread for errors and inconsistencies

According to Last Rewrite, proofreading your cover letter is a critical step in the job application process. By adhering to these formatting and length guidelines, your cover letter will be polished, professional, and more likely to catch the eye of hiring managers.

Common Mistakes and Phrases to Avoid

Being aware of and avoiding these common mistakes and phrases will help your cover letter stand out. Keep the following points in mind as you craft your cover letter:

  1. Overusing the word "I" and focusing too much on yourself
  2. Using weak openings and clichéd phrases
  3. Relying on empty buzzwords and jargon
  4. Making unsupported claims about your skills and accomplishments
  5. Copying and pasting content from your resume or other cover letters

For example, avoid starting your cover letter with generic and overused statements like:

"I am writing to apply for the position of Marketing Manager at your esteemed organization. I believe I am a perfect fit for this role because I am a hard worker, a team player, and a quick learner."

Instead, opt for a more engaging and tailored opening, such as:

"As a data-driven marketing professional with a proven track record of driving revenue growth, I was excited to discover the Marketing Manager opportunity at XYZ Company. Having admired your innovative approach to marketing, I am eager to contribute my expertise to help further elevate your brand's success."

By avoiding common mistakes and clichéd phrases, your cover letter will be more impactful and memorable to potential employers.


Understanding the dos and don'ts of cover letter writing is crucial for job seekers to create compelling and successful applications. By tailoring your cover letter, showcasing your personality, promoting your skills and accomplishments, and avoiding common mistakes, you can significantly improve your chances of catching the attention of hiring managers.

Remember that crafting an excellent cover letter is an ongoing process; continually refine and improve your cover letter as you learn and grow. By doing so, you increase your chances of job search success and take a significant step toward securing your dream job. Good luck in your job search journey!