What NOT to put in your cover letter

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
POSTED: March 26, 2013 at 9:11 am

Although a cover letter can have a more personalized tone than your resume, by no means is that license to be unprofessional. Too often, candidates believe that they can bare their souls in a cover letter, that such honesty will endear them to the hiring manager. If anything, it will make your letter and resume hit the trash can that much sooner.


The Worst Mistakes

  • Beginning a cover letter by writing, “Although I don’t have any experience (or skills, or knowledge) in this industry, I hope  you will…” Trust me, no one will get past the “don’t have any” part. You should never apply for positions that aren’t a good fit. You’re simply wasting your time.
  • Using ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ – or – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ as your letter’s salutation. For the hiring manager that’s tantamount to getting a letter to ‘Dear Occupant’. If you don’t care enough to find out what the hiring manager’s name is, that person won’t care enough about you to read your letter or resume.
  • Sending the same letter to everyone on your job-search list. When Mr. Edwards receives a letter addressed to Ms. Jones, he won’t read further. Your lack of attention to detail is quite clear. No one wants to hire someone like that.
  • Trashing your current or past boss. If your cover letter is filled with anger and hate, you will never be considered for a job at that company. No one wants to work with a whiner.
  • Telling the employer only what you want. For example: “I’m looking for work that will fit in with my school schedule.” “I don’t like to work weekends, so I won’t be available then.” “My rent’s gone up, so I need extra cash and thought I’d apply.” Would you hire anyone who wrote that?

Other Mistakes To Avoid

  • Telling a hiring manager what his company does. (“I’m looking for employment at XYZ Firm because this year’s sales exceeded last year’s due to your superior products, the widget, the thingamagig, and the whosits.”).  Chances are the hiring manager already knows that. What he or she doesn’t know is what you can do for the company.
  • Providing nothing of value. Writing a note rather than a cover letter. Something like, “I want to apply for this job. My resume is attached/enclosed. You can reach me at…” Why would anyone want to call when the individual revealed absolutely nothing about core or relevant qualifications?
  • Using slang or text spelling. Never, ever write ‘u’ for ‘you’ or ‘thx’ for ‘thank you’. You’ll come off as either very young and inexperienced or downright dumb.

For more mistakes to avoid, check out The Ten Worst Things to Put in Your Cover Letter at fins.com.

ResumeEdge specializes in cover letters, resume writing, resume editing and interview coaching through JobInterviewEdge. Our certified writers have decades of experience in 40+ industries. They can craft a cover letter that will wow a hiring manager and compel that individual to read your resume.