AWFUL or EXCELLENT Cover Letter?

WRITTEN January 25, 2018 Author: Rich Atkins

The decision has been made – time for a new job!  The résumé has been spiffed up, and you have found the perfect new position for you.  Now it is time for the cover letter.  

This is your chance to speak in your voice and tell this company why they want to hire you. The question is, will you write an AWFUL or EXCELLENT cover letter?  Read on for some tips on what to do, and what not to do!

This is a typical AWFUL Cover letter:

Dear So-and-so,

I am interested in the Coordinator position advertised on XYZ. My resume is enclosed for your review. Given my related experience and excellent capabilities I would appreciate your consideration for this job opening. My skills are an ideal match for this position…

Unbearable, right? It’s so terrible because it is self-centered, since it is ALL ABOUT THE WRITER.

That doesn’t bode well for the prospective employer.

How does this one seem, based on the previous comments:

Dear So-and-so,

Your post for a Director of Learning & Development on was timely, as it reflects COMPANY’s need to keep the workforce current, coupled with your recent hiring and expansion into (field/area/business direction).

Currently, COMPANY needs a leader who can build and deliver creative and innovative learning strategies to support the company’s ongoing transformation. In my most recent position at ABC Company, we launched a two-year training initiative and were able to increase company profits by reducing on-the-job injuries with better, more targeted OSHA courses. In addition, the company saved $XXX through our retention and promotion of best talent by nurturing and rewarding with skills training, which included Business Writing and Public Speaking classes.

There’s more information about these and other programs in the enclosed resume.

It would be great to have a quick meeting with you to find out more about your goals and objectives for getting the right person into this position.

As a follow up, I’ll give you a call on Thursday morning, unless you think Friday afternoon would be better. Please let me know.


It’s much better because it’s focused on the organization, and the person doing the hiring. Show your next employer that you can see the bigger picture and that you’re concerned with where the business is headed.



  • ONE PAGE only
  • UB4I™ Language – speak to recipient’s interests
  • Match their needs and your skills
  • Demonstrate expertise – knowledge of the organization and your field.
  • Clear – short, readable sentences and paragraphs
  • Use action verbs and active voice
  • Qualities: confident, optimistic, enthusiastic, professional 
  • Get to the point – people have short attention spans.
  • Stories and/or humor are OK
  • Mention referrer or mutual contacts
  • Send PAPER

This content is an offering from our Human Resources curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.

Other Resources:

Top Ten Reasons Why You Need a Cover Letter

6 Secrets to Writing a Great Cover Letter


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