top of page

Guiding non-writers to the perfect cover letter

Have you been asked to edit someone else's cover letter, or review a CV for a friend?

It's not ideal to edit or rewrite other people's cover letters. A more ethical technique is to guide them, tell them which bits you'd trim and where they are lacking impact. Then, ask questions that might jog their memory of cover letter-worthy comments.

Questions to ask non-writers before submitting a cover letter:

  1. "Is this what you want them to remember about you if they don't read past the first paragraph?"

  2. "What would you take away from this letter if you only scan-read the first sentence of each paragraph?"

  3. "If you didn't care about you, would you remember this story?"

  4. "Why isn't this bit higher up?"

  5. "Is this important enough to be included in the word count?"

Nudge them to remember that not everything needs to be disclosed in the cover letter. If it's impactful, they will have a series of interviews during which they can share more wins.

On the other hand, perhaps you're polishing your own job application and don't know where to start. It can be tempting to hire a ghostwriter to do the leg work for you, but this is not only unethical, it doesn't guarantee a good cover letter.

Noone knows you like you do. A contracted ghostwriter is not likely to write the perfect introduction for you to send with a job application. Use the questions above to edit your letter in an introspective way, instead.

When you're inevitably past the application stage and onto the interview, check out these insights into a recruiter's mindset.

The key to editing cover letters is often to edit down, trim repetition, then trim some more. These questions can guide non-writers to realise what they're missing, or oversharing.

Want more self-editing tips? Here are 4 more techniques to apply before hitting "send".



bottom of page