Getting Too Personal

When creating an effective cover letter, a little bit of the personal approach goes a long way.  While it’s a good idea to have a cordial and outgoing style, avoid being overly casual or revealing too much personal information. Professional, but friendly is the general rule.

A resume is a formal document, but the cover letter offers some latitude to display your personality.  Finding an effective cover letter template can be a good way to find a professional balance. As a rule, you should never be too familiar toward your audience.  For example:  always use a professional salutation when addressing your potential employer.  Instead of beginning your cover letter with the casual, “Dear Fred,” go with the safer, more respectful ”Mr. Miller.”

Reiterating your skills in your cover letter is also important, but avoid getting too personal. This is particularly true when revealing political or religious affiliations. You may have excellent experience with church committees, or political campaigns, but these associations should remain, as they are – personal. Your potential employer may have a bias against your politics or religious views, resulting in a job search disaster.

A less obvious, but real pitfall could be adding personal interests to your cover letter template. On the surface, your pastimes seem like a safe subject, but the somewhat cold truth is, most employers are interested in what you can do for them at work, not your interests away from work. A hobby may actually be a negative. For example, your “motorcycle, cliff-racing” hobby may cause more concern than curiosity.  It sounds extreme, but it’s best to avoid giving an employer the wrong idea.

So find an effective cover letter template and create a cordial and respectful cover letter, and avoid a first impression with TMI (too much information!)