Business Etiquette: Seven Tips for a Great Cover Letter

Your resume offers a quick overview of your work history, education and other experience but a good cover letter is your opportunity to introduce yourself, let your personality shine through, and explain in more detail why you’re a good fit for the company. A cover letter is not a “rehash” of your resume, but a chance to elaborate on it.

Tips for a Great Cover Letter:

  1. Use the cover letter to make a connection between your experience and the company’s needs. Your resume may explain that you are an event coordinator, responsible for planning and executing the annual fund raising golf event. Your cover letter can expound on how you increased the amount of profit by 25 percent last year by implementing fresh ideas, collaborating with new partners, and incorporating a social media program to market the event.
  2. Don’t confuse a cover letter with a form letter. A good cover letter targets each prospective employer with information relevant to their unique company.
  3. Address the cover letter to an individual.  If you do not have a specific name, don’t hesitate to call the office and ask who will be conducting the interview.  Never address a cover letter to “To Whom It May Concern”.
  4. It’s all about you, but really it’s all about them. While this is a prime opportunity to give potential employers more details about yourself, make sure and articulate it in a way that shows how your skills will be of benefit to them. Your cover letter should answer the question “Why are you a good fit?”  Write the letter in a manner that they can easily link your skills and experience to the job opening: “Chase Corporation is gaining market share in the widget industry, and my experience in widget design and engineering could contribute to that growth.”
  5. Avoid creating a dry, boring recitation of facts. Let your enthusiasm show by letting them know why you are excited about your field and the opportunity to be a part of the corporate team. “Through my past experience I have learned that I have a passion and a natural ability to be a part of a sales team.  I am very interested in an opportunity that forwards my sales talent and skills.”
  6. Form and grammar must not be overlooked.  A good cover letter is written in the same professional tone as a well-organized and thought out business letter. Include an introductory paragraph, a body that explains why you’re a strong candidate for a position, and follow with a strong closing paragraph, requesting an interview (Ask!), including pertinent information such as your phone number, email address and an opportunity to provide additional references if they so desire.  Include the same contact information that is on your resume, in the event the pages get separated.  Much like your resume, your cover letter should optimally be no longer than one page.
  7. Don’t rely on spell check. A second set of human eyes is always necessary when sending correspondence that could influence your future job.  If writing is not your strong suit, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Treat this valuable tool with the same care and attention you give your resume.

A well-written cover letter has the power to open doors, make great impressions and land the perfect job. Good luck!

It’s all about you, but really it’s all about them.

Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.


  1. Rosey says

    I really appreciated these tips!

    Question: If an organization requires that you apply through an online portal and doesn’t provide contact information for finding out who will interview you, how should you address the cover letter?

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