Establish your personal brand in your cover letter

By Debra Wheatman

On July 23, 2010

In Cover Letter Help

About career advice, jobs, personal branding


Establishing your brand in a cover letter can be a tricky thing. You want to be creative, yet professional. So if the prose is stifled, the reader can actually feel how the writer struggled with every word, every sentence, and every thought. Here are a few tips to help get the creative juices flowing and extend a brand that conveys confidence and your capabilities:

  1. Don’t over do it. You don’t have to fill the document with dozens of “50 cent” words to get your point across. This can be perceived as pompous and overbearing. Part of what makes a good cover letter is your ability to convey that you are genuine.  Plus the more times you reach, the more likely you are to misuse a word that doesn’t show up in every day conversation.
  2. Avoid clichés and trite sentences. Think about what you want to share with your audience. Your cover letter is a vehicle to demonstrate your ability to get the job done, but also show a sense of who you are as a person; that is, you want to demonstrate softer traits that will allow you to fit into the organization’s culture.
  3. Don’t repeat things exactly from the résumé. They have that document; it accompanied your cover letter! Present some distinguishing things. Convey why you want the job in a clear and easy to understand manner.
  4. Avoid errors at all costs! It is so rare to read a résumé or cover letter that doesn’t have at least one error. Get a copy of the Big Blue Book of Grammar or Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Proper sentence structure is imperative.
  5. Beware homophones {their | they’re | there}, {it’s | its}, {compliment | complement}. Please, get this right. See the bullet above.

Over the years I have read too many cover letters to count, many of which want to send me running like a house on fire. There are many resources out there that will allow you to create a concise cover letter. You can simply (a) buy a book on cover letters; (b) go to the library and read up on the topic; (c) engage a professional to write one for you. Whatever option you decide, you must make sure your cover is well written and error free; this could be the difference between getting the interview or making your way to the ‘file’. Happy Writing!

You are encouraged to comment on blog posts and/or submit questions to Debra. You can reach her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Debra Wheatman, CPRW, CPCC is President of Careers Done Write, a premier career services provider focused on developing highly personalized career roadmaps for senior leaders and executives across all verticals and industries. Visit to learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Careers Done Write!

Stay in the Now: Special Offers, Exclusive Events and Product News