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Do's and Don'ts in Writing a Cover Letter

Updated on January 13, 2018
JR Cuevas profile image

Ray is a civil engineering student and former student journalist. He loves to write about education, technology, and lifestyle.

Writing a cover letter is crucial since it serves as a handclasp to the hiring manager. You need to be very careful with every information you incorporate into your cover letter and how you create the flow of your cover letter. There are a lot of things to consider in writing a cover letter.

Do's in Writing a Cover Letter

Here are the do’s to succeed in writing a professional cover letter.

1. Encourage the Reader to Take a Closer Look at Your Resume

The body part of your cover letter should contain the promotion of your yourself as an applicant. Before starting the promotion of your resume, the body part of your cover letter is where you indicate all your abilities, interests, experiences and where you explain how your personality fits the job description. Remember that only your important skills and experiences are to include in the body part of your cover letter.

You can include at the last part of your body section some words of encouragement for the hiring manager to take a look at your resume for further achievements and skills. By this, you are insisting to the hiring manager that there are still additional or supplementary skills (aside from what you have stated already) that the organization or company can benefit from you. This helps you gain more trust from the hiring manager.

The picture below shows an example.


Encouragement to take a closer look at your resume.
Encouragement to take a closer look at your resume.

2. Use Strong Action Verbs and Phrases to Describe Your Skills, Interests, and Abilities

Action verbs are very powerful. It helps you stabilize and solidify you as an employee. It describes you how you are in the workplace and how you are able to succeed on different projects given to you. You just have to use perfect action verbs for each specific skill or ability. Also, have a variation on the action verbs you include in your cover letter because it is dull and boring to read repetitive words. As a result, It will just cause you low chances of getting the job since the hiring manager didn’t see any depth in your vocabulary which you should possess. Still, keep in mind not to use any jargon that you’ve never heard and just found on the internet. As much as possible, use shallow action verbs for better interpretation and understanding of the hiring manager.

There are a lot of action verbs that you can use in your cover letter to stand out.

Example Action Verbs You Can Use


3. Repeat the Specific Skills, Abilities, and Experience Associated with the Job Advertisement

You can repeat keywords stated in the job advertisement to your cover letter. Choose the right keywords that you think highlight the whole job advertisement.


Job Requirements for a Civil Engineer/Arhitect:

  • Fresh Graduates of Civil Engineer/ Architecture
  • Proficient in MS Office Applications
  • With good interpersonal skills both oral and written
  • Ability to relate to all levels of people in the company
  • Ability to manage time and meet project deadlines
  • Willing to undergo intensive training

How to incorporate to cover letter:

As a student leader for years, I was able to develop good interpersonal communication skills both oral and written which I think would help me become productive and committed. We were also immersed in various hardcore solving works where I have improved my critical thinking and analytical skills, learned how to effectively meet project deadlines, and work with various types of people to complete projects. As part of the qualifications, I am willing to undergo intensive training that you will require for the position I am applying for. Furthermore, my enclosed resume contains more details about my specific skills and qualifications.

4. Show You Have Done Your Homework

In the first place, you might already know the what the company is looking for. In order to apply for a job successfully, conduct a little personality and ability test for yourself. You must match your background to what the company’s looking for. Consider the job requirements posted as a checklist and evaluate yourself and look over if it really fits you as an applicant. Then, you’ll be able to say that you have a strong edge for the position you’re vying for.

5. Be Positive and Enthusiastic

Show positivism in your cover letter by expressing to the hiring manager that you are expecting for a positive response, an interview in 2-3 weeks time or at any time convenient for the hiring manager. Show you really want the job by stating how the hiring manager can contact you. You can provide your email address or your contact number at the closing section of the cover letter.

Express positivism and tell how the employer will contact you.
Express positivism and tell how the employer will contact you.

Don'ts in Writing a Cover Letter

Here are the don’ts in writing a professional cover letter.

1. Avoid Slang and Idiomatic Language

Idioms are absolutely not recommended to use in technical writing such as cover letters.These words are difficult to understand that is why it does not fit in technical writing. These slang expressions have no place in technical writing because their true meanings are different from the individual words making up them up Avoid using idiomatic expressions because there might be a case wherein the hiring manager interprets some parts of your letter differently and that will surely cause a big trouble for you.

2. Avoid Long and Complex Sentences

Cover Letters are recommended to be one-page letter just like resumes. One practical rule in creating a cover letter is to say things directly to the point. You should avoid long and complex sentences to avoid too much i. Keep it short, concise yet substantial.

3. Avoid Using Contracted Words

Contractions are informal words.But how? From the word itself contraction, it means compressed or squeezed. The squeezed words are originally two different words so are considered as informal. In the world of technical writing, avoid using contractions like “I’m” and “it’s”. Remove the usual thinking of creating an easy and colloquial tone of writing but rather, strive in aiming a pleasant and formal type of writing.

Examples of Contracted Words to Avoid

  • I'm
  • it's
  • should've
  • can't
  • don't
  • couldn't
  • she's
  • who's
  • could've
  • doesn't
  • they're

4. Avoid Emotive Words

Technical writing avoids the use of emotive or sensitive kind of words like wonderful, great, terrible, etc. Technical writing promotes an objective tone of the words or text. Always avoid using emotive words in writing a cover letter because it creates the tone of the text subjective. Emotive words urge emotions so much. It omits the mood of the fair, justified, and formal vibe of the cover letter.

5. Avoid Informal Sentences

Technical Writing is a formal form of writing. Avoid using informal and impolite sentences or wordings in your resume. These scenarios show subjective situations which are not recommended in writing a cover letter. Always keep your sentences pleasing and formal to the hiring manager.

Examples of Informal Sentences

  • Do you want me to send a resume? Call me through my number (049) 587-1234. Hope it don't take long.
  • Can I come over and see you this week for updates? I would like to get the job as soon as possible.

Examples of Formal Sentences

  • To the position of Civil Engineer, I would bring up-to-date knowledge of cost estimating and popular practices used in the field of transportation.
  • I enclosed my resume and completed all the documents needed.
  • I wish to apply for the position of Civil Engineer advertised recently (Ref. 143)

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© 2018 Ray Cuevas


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