Answers from Career Advisors … How can I increase the chances that potential employers will read my cover letter?

It’s frustrating to spend time writing a cover letter without if anyone will read it. We get it! That being said, we always encourage applicants to write strong, tailored letters. After all, you never know when that stellar doc will be the reason you land an interview! Here are two ways to strengthen your letters right now:

Be careful with intensifiers. Intensifiers do what the name implies: they enhance the meaning of a word and the corresponding phrase. It’s important to check your letters for commonly overused intensifiers like very, a lot and really. Too many of these makes your writing sound informal.

Don’t apologize. This is supposed to be a self-marketing document, but you wouldn’t believe how many letters say things like, “Even though I don’t have XYZ …” and “I realize I’m lacking in ABC qualification, but …” Eeek! Writers are often trying to be humble, and generally that’s a good thing, but a cover letter is your chance to highlight the qualities and experiences you DO have, not the ones you’re missing or haven’t developed yet.

Next steps: If you’re new to cover letter writing, no worries! We have plenty of resources to help you. Or perhaps you’ve written a few letters and want to further strengthen your writing. Start with the cover letter section of our website and review the templates in our Career Guide for Undergrads or Career Guide for Graduate Students.

Need a cover letter review? Stop by the Career Lab or make a quick question appointment!


By Susannah Krenn
Susannah Krenn Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing / Career Advisor