Do's and Dont's for a Successful Cover Letter

A cover letter is a great opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you're applying to a particular practice. It should be short and sweet, but also relevant and insightful. It's your chance to prove that you have goals and interests that align with the practice, and that you are a great fit for their team.

Follow these cover letter do's and don'ts to get noticed and land your next interview.

  • cover letterDon't neglect formatting. Make sure your text is all the same font and size, and that you are consistent with style formatting. Try not to copy and paste from other documents, or use complicated templates you found online - they can often make your cover letter difficult to read. We like this cover letter template from Microsoft Word.

  • Do keep a professional profile. If you want to be taken seriously, use an email address that reflects that. Instead of "hippiegirl123@gmail.com," use a more formal format, like the initial of your first name and your full last name. Also keep in mind that any social media may be looked at. Double check that you have the appropriate privacy settings turned on, and that anything public paints you in a professional light.

  • Don't regurgitate your resume. Think of your cover letter as an intro to your resume – it's a short synopsis, and if someone wants to learn more, they can read the full story in your resume. While you should mention any relative experience, try to keep it brief. If you're a new grad and don't have lots of experience, that's ok. Simply sharing how your professional interests and career goals will benefit the practice can go a long way in showing that you are a valuable asset and may fill a void they are looking for.

  • Do explain why you're applying. Your cover letter should include what's inspiring you to apply to a particular position, and what you can bring to the table. It's also an opportunity to explain any out-of-the norm information that might be confusing at first glance – for example, if you plan to relocate and are applying to a position in a different state, or if you want to move from a large animal focus to small animal medicine, etc.

  • Don’t include a CV unless asked. More often than not, a one-page resume is all you need. Most employers expect new graduate resumes to be very short, so don’t try and beef it up with extraneous information just for the sake of making it look longer. But of course, there are always exceptions. If the ad specifically asks for a CV, be sure to include one. 

  • Do use the "objective" wisely. In most cases, you don’t need to add an objective to your resume because you will have explained it in your cover letter. And we all hope that you’re looking forward to building strong client relationships and practicing high-quality medicine, so there’s no need to put in an objective to state that. But it may be worth adding one to explain any geographic or out-of-the norm situations when you don't have an option for a cover letter. For example, if your AVMA profile shows that you are living in Columbus, OH, but you want to practice feline-only medicine in the Atlanta area, you may wish to write an objective such as, "To join a feline only practice in the greater Atlanta area." This will prevent you from receiving emails and calls from people in Ohio looking to hire a new grad.
5. Don’t include a CV unless asked. More often than not, a one-page resume is all you need. Most employers expect new graduate resumes to be very short, so don’t try and beef it up with extraneous information just for the sake of making it look longer. But of course, there are always exceptions. If the ad specifically asks for a CV, be sure to include one.