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Cover Letter Etiquette

Cover Letter Etiquette

Think of the cover letter as your resume's cheerleading section.

Kim Isaacs / Monster


Job seekers often spend countless hours developing their resumes and then treat their cover letters as an afterthought. This can be a critical mistake; the cover letter can help your resume get noticed.

Think of the cover letter as your resume’s cheerleading section. To make the best impression, follow these etiquette rules:

Say No to the Cover Letter Cop-Out

The first rule of cover letter etiquette is to send a cover letter — always. It doesn’t matter if the hiring manager didn’t ask for it or you’re too busy to write one. It’s proper business etiquette to accompany a resume with a cover letter, and it gives you the opportunity to help sell yourself for the position.

Be Concise

Busy hiring managers don’t have time to wade through letters that could pass for dissertations. Get to the point as expeditiously as possible, and break any paragraphs seven lines or longer into short, easily digestible ones.

When emailing your cover letter, brevity is even more important. The nature of email calls for concise communication, in part because it’s harder to read on screen than on paper. However, don’t fall prey to the one-line cover letter that some job seekers try to pass off. It goes something like this: “Please see attached resume, and thank you for your time and consideration.” You should be able to write a convincing cover letter in a few brief paragraphs.

Keep It Professional But Friendly

While a resume is generally a formal document, cover letters give you a chance to reveal your personality. Not only do you want to show that you’re a good fit for the position, but you also want the reader to like you. Appropriate use of humor, combined with a friendly and professional tone, can help endear you to the hiring manager.