How Personal Should a Cover Letter be?

April 10, 2020

How personal should a cover letter be? It can be challenging when it comes to cover letters. We all know how beneficial they can be, but we also know that writing one incorrectly can also mean the difference between obtaining an interview or having your email tossed in the trash. One of the biggest concerns with cover letters is just how personal one should be.

So, how personal should a cover letter be? A cover letter should be professional without too much personal information (unless it relates directly to the job). And while you want to be professional, adding your own splash of personality will make your cover letter unique and stand apart from the crowd of ‘copy-pasted’ cover letters.

If you’re unsure just how personal your cover letter should be, you’ve come to the right place. We have personally- no pun intended- done our research and have found the do’s and don’ts when it comes to being personal in your cover letter.

How to Be Personal in a Cover Letter- The Right Way

No interviewer wants to read a copy-pasted cover letter.

This has zero personality and makes it look like you don’t actually have an interest in the job listing- you’re simply looking for a job to put money in your pocket, regardless of what it is.

And while that might be true, you still want to make it sound like this is your dream career that’s just right for you- employers love that.

So, that being said, the best way to be personal in a cover letter without being overboard is to make it customized to every company you apply for.

Here are a few great ways you can be personal in a cover letter- the right way:

1. Do your research, and prove it. 

When it comes to being personal, you should also consider making it personal to the company.

By seeking out the names of the managers and learning some background information, you can show that you have a keen interest in the position and that you are actually interested in the job and company. 

Add some detailed information about the company and job title in your cover letter.

Employers lie to see that you have done your research and that you feel somewhat acquainted with the position before you’re called in for an interview.

2. Show how your personal experience relates to the job.

This is probably the most important thing to remember when customizing your cover letter- and yes, we really mean customize, as no employer wants to read the same ole’ boring cover letter. That being said, you should always include personal information that relates directly to the job. 

Things such as awards you have won or goals you have reached are great things to include in the cover letter.

You can also include your schooling that makes you the best applicant for the job, as well as other qualifications that you think make you stand apart from the crowd.

The goal here is to get the employers interested in you due to your experience and background in the field.

Think of everything you can that might pique their interest, such as selling the most cars in your company for the past 3 years in a row or having a 4.0 GPA in your trade school.

3. Give them a splash of your personality.

You need to remain professional as much as possible, but even being overly professional can be a put-off.

The employer doesn’t want to see a block of text that sounds like a sales pitch. They want to know there is a real person behind the cover letter and that they have a personality to go with it.

Does that mean you should tell a joke midway through your interview?

Not necessarily.

Try to describe yourself and your personality without using typical adjectives like top-notch customer service skills, punctual, or hardworking. Get creative and sell yourself!

Give a little bit of personality here and there, but don’t go overboard here either.

Too much casual behavior- such as emojis and abbreviated texts you would find in a text message- shouldn’t be a part of your cover letter.

How to Be Personal in a Cover Letter – The Wrong Way

There is a definite wrong way to go about being personal in a cover letter, and that’s the last thing you want to do.

Being way too personal in a cover letter will be an instant turn off for employers, and you won’t even get to the first interviewing process.

Here are some things you should avoid:

1. Don’t talk about your personal life.

Unless you are going to be performing karate techniques in your career at this company, it’s probably not necessary to add it into your cover letter.

Unless you can make a connection between something in your personal life and the actual job, it’s best to leave it out. 

Instead of telling them

“Outside of my career I truly enjoy karate, horseback riding, and taking long walks on the beach”.

You could rephrase it to something such as,

“My black belt in karate proves that I’m persistent to make it to the top and have a go-getter attitude that just won’t quit”.

2. Don’t talk about why you want or need the job.

Sure, you probably want the job for the money- that’s the end goal, right?

But employers don’t want you to consider their job opening as another ‘run of the mill’ job. They want someone who actually wants to be there and will always do their best because it’s something they thoroughly enjoy. 

That being said, never tell the employer why you want or need the job.

They don’t want to hear that you’re behind on your rent or that you need to make a quick buck to that convertible you’ve had your eye on.

3. Don’t talk too casually.

We mentioned this a bit earlier, but it must be said again- don’t be overly casual with your cover letter.

While you don’t want to sound like a professional robot, you should also avoid being too casual with your cover letter.

Being too casual can make you appear disinterested and unprofessional, and this will, of course, dismiss your chances of moving further in the hiring process.

Always double-check for grammatical and spelling errors before sending, as these will be an instant turn-off.

Related Questions

How do you sell yourself in a cover letter?

The best way to sell yourself in a cover letter is to describe why you truly are the best person for the job, without being overly personal or too professional. Employers don’t want to suffer through another copy-pasted cover letter. Personalize the letter to show off your specific skills, talents, and backgrounds that will pique their interest. Always check your grammar and spelling, too.

How do you start a cover letter?

Writing an entire cover letter is a waste of time unless you have a great entry. That being said, the start of your cover letter should be direct, discuss someone you’ve spoken to within the company, express your excitement for the job, and also explain why you’re the best for the position with a few statements of your achievements. You want this first paragraph to WOW them.


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