How Be Your Bestest Self in Every Cover Letter

Graduating felt pretty sweet, but now it’s time to get down to business and find a job. You might already have a general cover letter and resume, but you can’t send the exact same thing to all the jobs you’re applying to. That’s not going to cut it if you want to stand out and land your dream job.

Instead, try these cover letter dos and don’ts to refine that stock cover letter into a customized piece that truly reflects your unique talents.


A cover letter is an opportunity to make your writing pop — BibMe is here to help you stand out from the crowd! Check out their free grammar guides for info about first person pronouns, adverb examples, and an interjection list. Then, give your cover letter a final touch and run it through the BibMe grammar and plagiarism checker and land that dream job!


Do:

Keep it fresh

Write a new/revised cover letter for every job application. You can of course copy and paste a bit between drafts. Just be sure to use the following tips to make it feel tailor-made because a cover letter’s sole purpose is to answer the question: Why am I the best person for this job?

Search keywords

Read over the job description highlighting words specific to the job. Since many employers use software to narrow down huge applicant pools, the more harmony between your cover letter and job description, the better.  

Tip: When searching for keywords, think like a search engine. Which words in the job description are most important for finding the right person for the job?

Your homework

Research the company itself. Is there a specific project or recent news about the company that appeals to you? Do they have a reputation for hiring a certain type of person? Incorporating this information in your letter will further prove you are a good fit and demonstrates a genuine interest in the company rather than treating it like one of a million organizations in your application pile.

Think customer service

Ask yourself the question: What can I do for you?

The entire purpose of a cover letter is to highlight the answers to this question. Because you’ve done your research and collected keywords, you know exactly what they are looking for. Now it’s time to match your personal history and strengths with those needs. Think about everything you’ve done from volunteer activities, part-time jobs, or special school projects and match those with the company’s needs.

Don’t:

Don’t go beyond a page

If your job application was a movie, the cover letter would be the trailer. Keep it short, tight and full of the best you have to offer.

Don’t include your GPA

The same can be said for graduation rank or any other school-related metric unless it is perfect and provides a direct correlation to the job itself. Employers know that great students are not always great employees. Focus your limited space on what makes you the best fit for the position.

Don’t let creativity run wild

Resist the urge to use unusual words, fonts, or phrases. They will make you stand out, but unless you are applying for a highly creative job, you will stick out for all the wrong reasons. Focus instead on the experiences and talents you can lend the company.

Don’t go it alone

Your potential employer should not be the first person to set eyes on your cover letter. No matter how diligent and thoughtful you are, there is bound to be a mistake or two hidden between the lines. Your best bet is to ask someone who has been in the workforce to read over your letter to weed out any potential missteps.

A cover letter is a company’s first introduction to you. With a little extra time, care and research, it can also be the very first step toward your dream job.


You probably won’t need citations in your cover letter, but BibMe.org is there when you’re ready to research. Whether it’s an APA bibliography or MLA citing you are looking for, thousands of styles to choose from (Chicago format, too!) at BibMe.org. You can also find help on putting together your annotated bibliography.