All the experts agree that a cover letter should use short sentences and simple language. Companies receive hundreds of letters daily so make sure your letter stands out and is easy to read.Check and double-check spelling and grammar for errors. Make sure you have the recipient’s name and title right even if it means checking with the person’s personal assistant or the company’s main reception desk. Finally, get a friend or family member to then check your letter for mistakes.

Don’t make the common mistake of summarising your resume in the cover letter. See our resume stories for more details.

For those approaching companies cold – in other words you are not applying for a specific job or responding to a job ad – it is a good idea to ask for a “meeting” in your last paragraph.

A “meeting” is less pressure than a formal job interview but all the basic rules of presentation, eye contact etc still apply (see our stories on job interviews for tips). Companies will meet with interesting candidates even when they don’t have a job on offer right away.

Cover letters are essentially sales letters so they must be written for the customer – the prospective employer – and not be based just on what you want. Stress what you can do for the company you would like to work for – not vice versa.

Finally, when preparing a hard copy, ensure your resume is on white A4 paper – the same as your resume – and that you use the same typeface and font size. Again, keep it simple. No fancy fonts or coloured paper.

Story by Kate Southam, editor of CareerOne. Go to for more career related articles. Job hunting and workplace questions can be directed to CareerOne by emailing: