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The Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Cover Letter

You may have a good idea of how to write a cover letter for your job application. But if you’re applying for a job that lots of other candidates are applying for too, you need to optimise your letter to the max to ensure you stand out from the crowd. Here are the do’s and don’ts of a successful cover letter that will ensure your application is the best it can be.


Address the cover letter directly to the person who is in charge of recruiting for the post you are applying for. If it’s just an email address or postal address, take the time to try and find out, it will only help your chances of being called for interview.

Keep your cover letter to the point and concise. It should be no more than one side of A4. Anymore than this is superfluous.

Ensure you’ve written your cover letter specifically for the job you are applying for. A generic letter will only harm your application and mark you out as someone who isn’t willing to put the effort in

Use the same paper that you printed your CV on. Using a different colour or different type of paper will only make your application look rather haphazard.

Think of who will be reading your CV. They may have to sift through several hundred so a concise, to the point cover letter that is well formatted will be a welcome relief and will help you chances of being selected for interview.

State any dates that you are not available for interview. You should be as flexible as possible and so this should only be a couple of dates and for things that you really can’t cancel, such as a wedding, exam or hospital appointment. It will save the hiring manager time knowing this information and will put your application in a good light.

Be proactive. Don’t let your cover letter be ‘passive’ and simply hope that you get an interview. In your cover letter actually ask for an interview in a polite manner. It shows that you really want the job and are not just going through the motions.



Repeat what is on your CV. Duplicating this information will only serve to make your cover letter seem unfocused and lengthy.

Forget to put your contact details on. Imagine missing out on an interview for your dream job because they can’t get in touch with you?

Forget to proofread your cover letter. If it’s full of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors it will not put your application in a good light.

Use a fancy font or try to be ‘edgy’ or ‘creative’ with the layout of your cover letter. A traditional format is always best that is simple and easy to read.

Be too informal. You may think that such language will portray you as a friendly, likeable individual but job applications should always be written in a polite, formal way and your cover letter should reflect this.

Be boring. There’s nothing worse than a dull letter that drones on. A polite, formal letter that uses lively and engaging language will be much more enjoyable to read for the hiring manager sifting through applications.

Don’t use cliches such as you can ‘work well as part of a team or alone’ or that you enjoy ‘reading and socialising’. Faced with a pile of CVs and cover letters, these cliche phrases will crop up time and time again. Make your cover letter stand out by avoiding such cliche phrases.