10 Things To Avoid In Your Cover Letter

Posted by in Career Advice

Like it or not, your cover letter is the first document that creates an impression about you (good or bad). Because first impressions really count, you need to take a careful approach to writing cover letters in order to avoid rejection. Here are the 10 major don’ts you need to avoid: 1. Don’t use cover letter templates, however good they may be. There are three things you must know that go against these templates: 1) they are stale & boring 2) most templates are likely to have been downloaded from internet 3) therefore, yours will be exposed as being identical to many. Use samples to get ideas on how to write your own unique letter. 2. Don’t write a lengthy first paragraph that will only bore the reader. A lengthy first paragraph also dilutes your impressive qualities and eventually weakens the entire letter - this is the last thing you want to happen. 3. Don’t exclude your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Remember that the cover letter is your sales letter; you should highlight your main strengths and prepare the reader psychologically to want to read further. 4. Don’t write a vague letter without mentioning specifics, such as the job title and job code/number if you are responding to an advertisement. 5. Don’t address your cover letter ‘To Whom It May Concern’. It shows that you don’t care enough to do your research to find out who is receiving the resume packages. 6. Don’t use fanciful fonts. Don’t unnecessarily use capitalized or bolded words, or grandiose phrases. Don’t send the letter without nixing silly spelling or grammatical mistakes. 7. Don’t use cliché language such as "As afore mentioned, I am enclosing…" This will only irritate the recruiter. Instead use simple phrases such as, "enclosed please find my resume." 8. Don’t include personal information like your race, sex or marital status in the cover letter. These things are against the Equal Employment Opportunity Act, and as such will not impact the decision whether or not you are called for the interview. 9. Don’t use copies of the same cover letters with just the address and date lines changed to send for similar jobs. If you don’t customize the entire body, the letter may either be irrelevant or a mistake may silently make it into the final draft. 10. Don’t brag or make statements that can't be quantified. You should be humble, yet accurate – employers these days often verify your statements for accuracy (and uncover exaggerations). The trick with the cover letter is to capture the reader’s imagination as soon as they begin reading. This entails keeping your cover letter neat and tidy with a simple format, and avoiding common errors, such as the 10 listed above.

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  • Jeanne Hopple, PhD, APRN, ANP-BC, FNP-C

    Thanks very much for sharing your advice on mistakes to avoid in writing a cover letter! Great information!

  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for stopping by and taking a moment to share your thoughts. I agree that you should write a personal cover letter for every job you apply to. Of course, you might be able to use some of the same phrasing in all of your cover letter, but be sure that it's clear that this cover letter is for a specific job - not a form letter.
  • albertkahn
    There is no doubt that this is a wonderful article but sometimes it depends on the attitude of the HR Manager to approve your cover letter. Job seekers do many experiments in cover letters but generally most of them fail to impress HR Managers. Cover letters are quite popular in United States specially in white collar jobs. Job seekers write many thing in order to impress interviewers. Most of the time, job seekers add comments which are totally irrelevant to the job. Most of the time these tricks don’t work. Many people just use Microsoft office cover letter templates which becomes reason for rejection of their application as HR Managers reject these kinds of application on the spot.. Job seekers should write different cover letters for different jobs as one cover letter can’t fulfill the requirement for all jobs. Many persons furnish wrong information in letters but HR people are old hands at catching doubtful candidates.  Embellishment doesn’t work these days at all. However one can hide irrelevant matter or information to avoid rejection as this is widely popular and accepted many times because everything is not in one’s control . If you are hiding major things in your letter ,then it might lead to suspicion in the mind of the HR Manager. Candidates should be well prepared to answer all possible question on any thing in their cover letter. Not every interviewer reads cover letter fully as they don’t have enough time to read the letters of hundreds of candidates. This is a fact, one should pay attention to making first paragraph as informative as possible. Candidate can write anything they want but what it takes to get in good is how relevant and how useful they would be to the company. Companies  have brains but not hearts so you should avoid any emotional things in your letter. There can be various things which might be added in accordance with the latest trends.
  • albertkahn
    There is no doubt that this is a wonderful article but sometimes it depends on the attitude of the HR Manager to approve your cover letter. Job seekers do many experiments in cover letters but generally most of them fails to impress HR Managers.
  • cover letter
    cover letter
    A resume cover letter is an integral part of the job search. A professional seeking a position within a company should never submit a resume with an appropriate resume cover letter attached, that is, if they want to land the job. Companies do not just receive one, five or even ten resumes when they post an available position. They receive hundreds or even thousands depending on the current job market, the size of the company and the area in which they are located.Amy Cooper

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