CV Writing, Job Search

Writing a Cover Letter: Things to Do and Things to Avoid

Cover letter - what to write & what to avoid?

We’ve often talked about cover letters here on Linking Lines’ blog. Cover letters are very important and there are certain things you need to do and certain things you should avoid! The question of how to write a cover letter is one that troubles many jobseekers. Let’s see if we can simplify things here.

What is a cover letter?

First thing’s first: let’s explain what is a cover letter. As per Prospects.ac.uk, “A cover letter is a document sent alongside your CV when applying for jobs. It acts as a personal introduction and helps to sell your application. A cover letter is necessary as it gives you the chance to explain to an employer why you’re the best candidate for the job.” (read the full article here)

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Getting ready for cover letter writing? Read our blog!Things to Do…

The internet is large and full of conflicting information, so, we’ll try to make it easy for you. That is why we want to cover the basic few things that you simply have to do when it comes to job applications and cover letters.

Always write a cover letter with your job application.

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Well, you’d be surprised by the number of people who think that they don’t need a cover letter. If it is a requirement, sure, they’ll write one, but if it’s “optional”, they won’t bother. And while we do understand jobseekers are busy and a high-quality cover letter can be time-consuming, we don’t understand why you’d lower your chances of getting a job interview by skipping the cover letter. Remember, if it’s “optional”, that means that not a lot of people are going to write one. And if you write one, chances are, you’ll be noticed! 😉

Show a bit of personality!

It’s true that your CV has to be 100% professional. However, your cover letter is a slightly different story! Your cover letter is basically a motivational letter. So, when you’re wondering how to write a cover letter, bear this important info in mind.

In it, you need to explain why you’re applying for the job, how the company can benefit if they hire you, and what is your motivation for the role. Your cover letter is an excellent place to mention your personal traits (e.g. trustworthy, creative, good at giving advice, logical, etc) and share interests outside of work (if you feel it’s relevant to the position you’re applying to).

Adapt your cover letter to the job ad.

We know – it is very hard to write different cover letters for all those different job ads you’re applying to. But, bear in mind that this is necessary. It doesn’t make any sense to send in a generic cover letter that you used for 14 other job applications. Be diligent and do your homework – adapt your cover letter to the specific job ad.

Do a quick run-through our list of things to do & avoid in cover letter writing!

…and Things to Avoid

Most of these things are pure logic, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat them. We have a few for you here:

Using online templates.

If you’ve browsed our site, you know that we’re big advocates of personalized approach to CV and cover letter writing. So, one of the things to avoid on our list is definitely using online templates.
Not only does that mean you won’t fully customize your cover letter, but there are very good chances you’ll have the same cover letter as many other candidates. And that is 100% something you really want to avoid.

Not addressing the reader.

In this day and age, most of the job ads have the poster’s name in them. That means that you can start your cover letter with “Dear Kimberly” instead of “To Whom It May Concern.” Not addressing your reader can show lack of attention to detail (because the name is right there) or you can perceived as careless (you don’t care about the reader) or just plain rude (you’ve seen the name but chose to go with a generic greeting). Therefore, avoid not addressing the reader if you know their name!

Grammar & spelling issues.

We simply can’t forget about this one. Please, avoid having grammar and spelling issues. Awkward phrases, long sentences, typos, wrong tenses…this all can (and needs to) be avoided if you simply double-check your work and proofread it.

Sail Away Into Your Job Search

We hope these tips have been helpful and that they’ll boost your job search! Read our other blogs about cover letter writing and job search in general. And, remember, if everything fails, you can always hire a professional. 🙂

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