Cover letter dos and donts



  • Research the organisation and the job/post. Visit web sites to gain specific information that might be pertinent to the position
  • Be organized. Think of how you will present your information
  • Be concise. Never use two words when one will do (avoid verbosity), and use simplistic easy to read language
  • Use standard letter format. Most use Times New Roman because psychologically readers think the person writing it is more solid and reliable
  • Address your cover letter to a specific person
  • Be specific about the position for which you are applying. Use the same language that was used in the advertisement.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm
  • Always include a Call to Action – ideally request an interview, at minimum say when you will call them
  • Edit, edit and edit again: and then proof read it at least three times. Your letter must be perfect.
  • Ask a friend to read your whole application – if in doubt, ask more than one
  • Sign your application and letter – black ink is best
  • Send your application in at least three days before the closing schedule
  • Never send an application, unless it requests it, by recorded delivery/Fedex – you just look too enthusiastic!
  • If you don’t hear anything, follow up – ask for feedback
  • Always send a “thank you” letter post an advert
  • Keep a copy of each cover letter for your records.


  • Apply for jobs for which you are obviously not qualified
  • Address a letter “To Whom in may concern”
  • Begin your letter with My name is
  • Use the same Cover Letter for each application
  • Ask rhetorical questions, such as Do you know why I would be a strong asset to your department/company?
  • Use exclamation points in your letter.
  • Use odd fonts, flashy colored paper, or an unusual format – unless you are applying for an artistic position. The more unconventional from an office environment the employer, the more leeway for creativity you have in writing a cover letter
  • Repeat your entire CV/Resume – is a sales document, leave the meat for later
  • Exaggerate your qualifications or be dishonest.
  • Make your letter more than one page long

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