Writing & Blogging

Improve Your Cover Letter by Focusing on Your Grammar

One of the more daunting aspects of applying for jobs is the cover letter. You want to convince them that you’re right for the job so they want to bring you in to interview, but you don’t have the benefit of in-person reactions to their opinions of you. You need to explain why you would be perfect for the job, and you need to be professional. While I don’t consider myself an expert on the content needed for writing an awesome cover letter – especially since I think that a lot of it varies depending on the industry you’re in – I can definitely help with the grammar aspect of your cover letter writing. Here’s how you can improve your cover letter through the grammar, tone, and more of your writing – and scroll down to the bottom to get the free checklist to help you write the best cover letter possible.

Looking to write an awesome cover letter? Here's how you can improve your cover letter writing through focusing on your grammar.

Formatting

The cover letter should begin by addressing your letter, and if you don’t know who will be receiving the letter, address it to “To whom it may concern.” After this (the salutation), use a colon instead of a comma. The beginning of each paragraph needs to line up, and there should be a space in between paragraphs. The paragraphs should not begin with an indent, so that space in between each paragraph is necessary. When you end the letter (the valediction), sign off with something like “Best” or “Sincerely,” and use a comma after it. Your name should be on the following the line.

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General Grammar

Grammar can be a big issue in your cover letter depending on the job you’re applying for. If you’re not in a career path that requires interacting with clients via email or writing in any way, then it might not be that big of an issue. However, if you are, then it could be, and this also doesn’t ensure that grammar won’t matter to the recipient of the letter. If you do need to have correct grammar, there are a couple of big aspects you should focus on: run-on sentences and fragments. Namely, you want to make sure that your sentences don’t have too many ideas in one sentence and that a sentence has a complete idea, which is sort of like issues that are the opposites of one another.

You can check out all of my grammar posts here, and you can buy my e-book The Essential Grammar Handbook for $10 here.

Notes on Tone

A big error people make is that they keep their tone informal in their cover letter, but you should use a formal tone. This means that you shouldn’t use contractions or write as if you’re talking to a friend. You should also avoid using exclamation points, as that is an element of informal tone. Here is an example of informal tone: “It would be great if you hired me for the job! I’m a big fan of your company, and I can’t explain how cool it would be if I got the job.” Here’s a reworking of that sentence, but this time in a more formal tone: “I would love to work for your company because of [reasons], and I think that I would be a good fit.” The more formal tone doesn’t have that first sentence because it is too casual, even without the exclamation point.

Free checklist to help you improve your cover letter writing

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  • These are great tips! I am a manager so I spend a lot of my time interviewing people, and cover letters can make or break a decision for me!

    • Yeah, I think a lot of people don’t realize the role that the cover letter can play. And thank you!