Don’t Let Cover Letters Stress You Out!

* Use Grammarly for proofreading because… it’s hard for a Manger to play an important roll in your organization.*  Sponsored Grammarly Advertisement.  


Just say the words “cover letter” and you strike fear in the hearts of millions.  {I just did}

Dont let cover letters stress you out hacking the cover letter judi fox blog

The first thing people do when faced with job searching is focus on their resume.  We spend hours and hours fine tuning that document only to be faced with writing a cover letter. 

The following list takes cover letter advice and turns it inside out to see how it works in real life.  What I want to do is demystify cover letters and reduce your stress.  

1.  Cover Letter – Let’s Define it… cover letter definition hacking the cover letter and tips to reduce stress judi fox blog

It is either an email, online job application, LinkedIn message, letter, or any form of communication to tell someone why you are contacting them and attaching your resume.  Maybe if we called it “Contact Email” it would feel less stressful from the start. 

But honestly, this definition didn’t alleviate that much cover letter stress. 

2.  Write a great opening sentence.  Seriously? 

All of a sudden there is tremendous pressure to write the most amazing first sentence on the planet.  How do we get past this stressful road block?

We can start by acknowledging that almost 80% of all jobs are filled through networking. 

Therefore, if you are optimizing your job search, the majority of your cover letters are being sent to either direct or slightly indirect contacts (i.e. someone knows someone you know).  That means people receiving your letter will probably look at your resume.  All you need to do is not mess up the letter.  

You don’t need a super catchy opening sentence!  {Gasp}  Yes, I am going against lots of advice out there, but your opening sentence for these types of contacts just needs to be professional, informative, sometimes personal, and to the point. 

Make sure your letter mentions the person you know in common and adheres to all grammar rules because you never know if they will forward your email directly to their Human Resources Department. 

Modify the following sentences to fit your personal situation and experience: 


I am currently considering new career opportunities and I wanted to contact you to see if your company has any potential positions that would fit my IT administration experience.  


Recently I have been searching for a new career opportunity and I wanted to send you my resume in case you think of anyone who might be interested in my skills and safety management experience. 


Recently I met / talked with Deborah Wilkerson, Director of Marketing, and she suggested that I reach out to you because she thought my skills and abilities would be of interest to XYZ International Corporation.


3.  Mention Job or Company Content Demonstrating your Research.     

This can kill cover letter momentum in a heart beat.  How do you summarize a company in less than a page?  Start by following these tips:

- Mention the job you are applying for in the cover letter

- Briefly discuss how your skills and experience will bring value or be a good fit based on the company’s mission statement or values

- If something about the company caught your eye when you did your initial research to determine if this was the right position to apply for…. then mention it.  But beyond that don’t worry. 

4.  Keep your Paragraphs and Sentences Short and Succinct.

If the pressure isn’t already loosening up maybe this will help.  Keep your cover letter short!  Focus on making it easy to read and avoid large blocks of overwhelming text. 

This might not reduce the stress for people that have a lot to say.  But remember that hiring managers do not have a lot of time to sift through paragraphs describing 10 different ways you are amazing.  Focus on never repeating anything and sticking to 3 – 4 paragraphs with 3 – 4 sentences each! 

5.  Avoid overusing the word “I” and limit filler words.

Reduce the stress even more and just write initially from your gut.  Just get something down on paper.  After you finish the first draft, take a break and then re-visit the text later.  Return to your text with a goal to remove words like:

  • I
  • On
  • In
  • To
  • Of
  • And
  • For
  • As

6.   The first sentence should not start with “I”

Avoid starting the cover letter with the word “I”.  In general, cover letters should be  focused on the company and what you can do for them.  Try starting with:

  • Recently, I was alerted to the Business Consulting position available in your Montgomery, AL office…
  • With over 10 years experience in the marketing profession, I have proven skills and a performance track record that can immediately benefit your company as a marketing manager. 
  • Thank you for recently connecting with me…
  • Your companies recent award for excellence in consulting is extremely impressive and I was thrilled to see a Senior EHS Manager opportunity available in the Dallas, TX office.       
  • My name is Susan Brown and I am contacting you regarding XYZ company’s marketing manager job posting… 
  • Recently, I have been researching opportunities within the environmental management profession and…
  • As an Information Technology professional with over 10 years experience, I have learned that the best way to achieve success is to motivate employees with well-defined expectations and empowerment.  These leadership skills, coupled with excellent time management, will bring immediate benefit to your companies IT Department. 

Remember to be specific describing either the position, company, or how your experience fits the available opportunity.   

7.  Address the letter to someone! 

Do everything you can to avoid writing “To Whom it May Concern:” because it might not concern that many people what the cover letter says after that.  Try to find a name to address the letter to through the company online directory, internet search, LinkedIn, or by calling the main company phone number and saying:

I am interested in applying for a position I saw available on the company website and I wanted to make sure I address my cover letter to the correct person.  Would you be able to give me the name and spelling of the Environmental Department Manager? 

(If you know the department you are applying to you can ask for that department manager OR ask for the HR manager who receives and processes resumes.)

As a last resort, you can try “Dear Hiring Manager”. 

An About.com article shows survey results demonstrating that employers prefer: 

  • Dear Hiring Manager (40%)
  • To whom it may concern (27%)
  • Dear Sir/Madam (17%)
  • Dear Human Resources Director (6%)
  • Leave it blank (8%)

This tip probably didn’t reduce your stress very much, but at least you can improve your chances by just nixing the “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir / Madam”.

8.  Proofread. 

People will not be impressed if there are misspellings or grammar mistakes in your cover letter.  But even when you are networking it is important to keep in mind that professionals put their credibility on the line when they pass along a resume. 

Most individuals can’t forward resumes or messages when the emails contain "i", "dont", or anything misspelled.  The reputation of the person you are contacting is on the line when they recommend a candidate for consideration within their own company.  Proofreading can be stressful, but websites like Grammarly help to alleviate that stress.    

The worlds best grammar checker grammarly cover letter tips and ideas


9.  Be Thankful and Continue Networking!

Remember to be thankful in your job search communications and continue networking!   

You never know when someone will be unable to offer you a position, but they can instead offer you some networking connections.  Here are several sentences you can consider using:


In addition, if you know of anyone that might be interested in my skills and [insert] experience I would greatly appreciate any networking contact information you can send to me. 


Thank you so much for reviewing my qualifications and passing my resume on to your management team. 


I appreciate you taking the time to review my resume.  Please let me know if I can answer any questions about my career search.  Thank you in advance for potentially forwarding my resume to any of your networking contacts that might be interested in my skills and experience. 


Hopefully theses tips helped reduce your Cover Letter stress!   

Please contact me at judiwfox@gmail.com if you are interested in finding out how we can work together on your cover letters and job search communications.   

Thank you!

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1 Response to Don’t Let Cover Letters Stress You Out!

  1. Hello! I've recently graduated from my university and I've been looking for some job opportunities. The thing is I don't have any work experience on my resume so I don't know how this is going to affect my cover letter. My seniors told me I'll have to make an effort to produce the most impressive cover letter ever. I'd like to thank you for such a nice piece of information you've brought to us.

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