Cover Letters - Do's and Don'ts
By Robin Ryan Posted 04-16-2018

The biggest mistake many job hunters are currently making is that they skip writing a cover letter when sending off a resume, says an AT&T Human Resource Manager. “Cover letters are very influential, and a well written letter can grab an interview just on its own merit. It’s too bad most job hunters are so lazy they don’t write one anymore,” notes this HR manager in charge of employee recruiting.


Writing an effective cover letter can make an employer call you. Most people admit that it is hard for them to write a persuasive letter so they talk themselves out of doing it. Employers report that they take more time reviewing applications that carry a customized cover letter. Here are some tips on how to make your letter standout and get you noticed.



Don’t lose them with your first sentence.

According to the Society of Human Resources Management, a cover letter and resume only gets a 15-second glance, so your first line either grabs the reader’s attention or loses it. Hiring managers prefer you use a powerful first sentence that summarizes the top skills and experience you can bring to the job. For example, Five years of experience as project manager with a proven track record of being on time and within budget is the background I’d bring to your position.


Don’t ever send a generic form letter - it never works. In fact it often turns the employer off.


Never begin your letter with the overused standard – “I’m applying for the ad I saw on your (or xxx) website.”

This fails to address the employer’s needs and the skills you bring to the job.


Don’t apply for the job if you aren’t targeting the job title advertised.

This is a critical time waster.


Don’t let careless errors torpedo you.

Hiring managers hate typos and spelling mistakes. Carefully proofread both your letter and resume before you send it off.


Never write a cover letter that is more than one page.



SELL your past results.

Use short powerful sentences detailing past accomplishments and the outcomes you have achieved. Forget offering boring details and endless job descriptions –results is what gets attention.”


Demonstrate excellent writing skills.

Many employers view your cover letter closely and use it as a measuring stick of that applicant’s actual communications ability. Be sure to be concise and articulate about your past experience.


List the qualifications needed.

Many applicants do not address the qualifications requested in the job listing -- big mistake. Quickly address the top noted qualifications and state the experience and skills you possess to perform that task or function.


Do list contact info.

Cover letters can get separated from resumes. Be sure your name, city, state, cell phone number and personal email are on the letter. You would be amazed to know how many people forget this all important component. 


A good layout that is easy to read is essential.

Keep plenty of white space, use bullets, and a readable font size. Microscopic type is a bad choice since small font type sizes can make addresses, phone numbers and emails illegible. Arial is a good font choice, size 12 point.


Take the time to impress an employer with your ability to perform the job by writing a powerful cover letter.




© Copyright 2018 Robin Ryan. All rights reserved.  Robin Ryan is a career counselor offering individual services including Interview Coaching and Resume Writing.  She is a Speaker and the bestselling author of seven career books including 60 Seconds & You’re Hired and Over 40 & You’re Hired.  She has appeared on over 1500 TV and radio shows including Oprah, Dr Phil, CNN and ABC News.  Visit

This website uses cookies for analytics and to function properly. By using our site, you agree to these terms.