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Creating the Perfect Cover Letter – The 4 Things You Need to Include (And 3 Things You Can Omit)

While a cover letter may seem like a bygone relic of the pre-digital application age to some, the fact is that most recruiters like to see them.

Over three-quarters (78%) of recruiters say that they want applicants to submit cover letters with their resumes. What’s more, a quarter of that 78% say that the letter isn’t just desired – it’s “very important.” That’s because a cover letter gives the hiring manager some insight into your personality – 59% of recruiters agree with that statement – and shows you’ve put effort into crafting an application specifically for the company.

So, you need to get your cover letter right.

Think of this list of inclusions and omissions for your cover letter as your checklist as you work on this vital document.

Picture of a resume with the words on it that say "Cover Letter Dos and Don'ts

Include Research About the Company

A cover letter isn’t supposed to be a generic collection of statements that tell a hiring manager how great you are. It should reflect your desire to work for the company. In other words, it’s more about the company than you.

Consider the organization’s culture and the specific reasons why you think that it’s an attractive place to work. If you can mention any projects the company completed – especially any that complement your skills – use those to showcase your understanding of what the role entails.

Omit Any Language That Isn’t in Keeping With the Company’s Tone

There’s always a balance to strike with the tone of a cover letter.

Opt for something too informal when you’re applying for a strictly professional role – such as accounting – and you distract away from the skills you bring to the table. By the same token, being too rigid when writing for a creative role could make you appear too “stuffy.”

It’s all about your audience. Play it safe by sticking with a generally neutral tone, tailored slightly toward formal or casual based on the employer.

a cover letter image with the words on the image that say "Writing Your Cover Letter"

Include a Different Cover Letter for Every Application

Given that 36% of resumes are rejected outright for being “too generic,” you can’t afford to send the same standard cover letter for every role that appeals to you.

Again, remember that this is your opportunity to explain why you’ve applied for the role. Using the same cover letter over and over just results in you having to stray away from the personalization that’s so attractive to employers.

Omit the Generic Opening Line

The first sentence of your cover letter can’t be wasted on a generic statement like:

“My name is X, and I’m applying for the Y role I found on the Z website.”

Recruiters don’t care about that snippet of information because it’s irrelevant to them where you found the role. Instead, start with a line that emphasizes a key aspect of you that relates to what’s required in the role. Something like:

“As a software developer with 10 years of experience working with Python, I’m excited for the opportunity to improve my skills alongside your team of AI professionals.”

That line showcases something important about the candidate – 10 years of experience – and relates that important thing to the role. It’s a much stronger opening. Research online to find the best cover letter examples to see how a professionally written cover letter should look and read.

Blue and white image with  resume on it that has the failing grade d- and says Cover Letter Mistakes

Include Any Information the Recruiter Requests in Their Instructions

You don’t know better than your potential employer when it comes to what they want to see in a cover letter.

If the letter is a requirement for an application, the recruiter will usually deliver instructions on what they want to see included. Follow those instructions to the letter. Not only does that mean you’re delivering a cover letter that appeals to the recruiter, but it showcases your attention to detail. Think of the instructions like a test – the hiring manager wants you to follow them in order to pass.

Omit Details That Can Be Found in Your Resume

Your cover letter doesn’t have to deliver the information that’s in your resume. It’s not a rehash or a summary of what the recruiter could learn by simply flipping the page, and you’re wasting your time (and theirs) if you use your cover letter to repeat yourself.

That’s not to say that you can’t offer some details about your experience. But when you do, always use those details as a lead-in to a statement that focuses on the hiring company and why you’re applying to it.

Include Your Contact Information

The only exception to the “don’t repeat your resume” rule is your contact information. You may share basic contact details in both documents, with those details serving to meet standard letter formatting in your cover letter.

At the very least, write your name, email address, and phone number as part of your header, perhaps with your location added to show that you’re local to the role. Something like the following should work:

John Smith

Denver Area


The hiring manager immediately receives your basic details, meaning you can focus the actual letter on the role itself. As a bonus, including this contact information at the top of the letter means you don’t need to find a way to work it into whatever you write.

Cover Letters Are Still Critical

Despite some seeing cover letters as passé, the fact is that most recruiters still use them to get a better idea about how you are as a person in the context of the role they’re offering. Therein lies the challenge – how do you talk yourself up while keeping the letter’s focus on the role?

That’s where Expert Resume Pros come in.

Our cover letter service covers everything from formatting to the letter’s content, with all letters being keyword-optimized for ATS systems. With our help, you’ll land an interview in 45 days or get your money back, so get in touch to craft a compelling cover letter today.

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