What Not to Include in a Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Writing a cover letter should receive as much time and effort as constructing a resume. The right cover letter structure and content could make all the difference when it comes to being selected for an interview. Your cover letter should contain certain elements, but more importantly, there some things should never be included.

It's entirely appropriate and recommended to show some personality in your cover letter structure, but that doesn't mean you should include detailed personal information. Omit characteristics such as age, race, gender, marital status, and religion when writing a cover letter unless any of those have a direct impact on the position you're applying for. The same goes for personal achievements such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or participating in the Iditarod. If it's not completely relevant, leave it out.

Out of all of the common cover letter mistakes job applicants often make, trying to inject humor into the cover letter structure is one of the most damaging. You run the risk of offending someone, and you can instantly lose credibility in the eyes of the person reading your letter.

As you put together your cover letter structure, be very careful not to include any statements that could be perceived as demanding. When you write about what you're looking for in the ideal job or state that you will follow up this communication at a specific date and time, you may appear arrogant or seem to be trying to control the situation. Remember, you're hoping to serve the needs of the company at its discretion—not the other way around.

Never include any statements that may make you seem desperate in your cover letter structure. When you dance around the subject of desired salary and use the word "negotiable," you lose authority and convey that you're willing to take any job at any cost. Avoid highlighting lack of experience or any other weaknesses; focus on your strengths and knowledge instead. The cover letter is your chance to highlight your strengths and show the company that you have what it takes to fulfill the job duties of the position.

Your resume is designed to demonstrate your education and professional experience to a prospective employer, but the cover letter is your chance to shine. Spend time on your cover letter structure and remember what you should and shouldn't include–you will be in a much better position to garner an interview and perhaps land that coveted job.



(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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    Didn't give examples ... I didn't learn much from reading it.
    What To Include in an Article Spin-off. More meat we want, we want real life cover letter samples that are worth critiquing.
  • Donna Ketterer
    Donna Ketterer
    I've been applying for positions since the first of the year.  I'm extremely doubtful that any of my applications or resumes got past the initial "sign-in" for the numerous job sites.  Unfortunately, those sites exposed my e-mail address to dozens of technical school, I get calls from them daily.  Beware job seekers.
  • Karen Jefferson
    Karen Jefferson
    This was very helpful. Thank yo
  • Paul Ajzenman
    Paul Ajzenman
    This article is general. The points should have been offered as bullet statements; not enough meat on this bone to make it an article!  There are no suggestions or alternatives offered to the admonishment to avoid the phrase "negotiable." As noted by another commentator, there is no guide to creating a proper structure.
  • Lorna  Cascio
    Lorna  Cascio
    My purpose is not to be rude,  but if you really know the subject you are critquing then address the real life issues that the unemployed are facing: generic covers, gift card hire, fake job ads.HR generates generic denial letters to clean out the mail box. Your resume/cover letter was never read. Companies offer bonuses and gidt cards to existing employees for referrals.The job ads are only a cover up for positions filled by friends, families or promtions.We never had a chance from the start.Here, let me offer you  real good honest sound advice.Call the company first before applying. Verify the position is available and outside", application are accepted.Ask for a timeline to fill the position, immediately, next month, next year, etc?Get the name, "no exception" of the person who is reviewing the submissions and if lucky the person making the hiring dicision.If they are reluctant to give this information, then I wouldn't  waste my time on false hope. Its painful enough. Once you know this is a real position then follow all the good advice for cover letters and resume writing.
  • Kerry Hultquist
    Kerry Hultquist
    This article makes a point that the structure of  a cover letter is important.  It then completely fails to even suggest the proper structure.  It includes topics or areas of experience that should be included but fails entirely to suggest the proper structure.
  • Matthew Shelton
    Matthew Shelton
    Very helpful.
  • Albert Higgins
    Albert Higgins
    This is a good and informative article, but it needs to be expanded, and there's no information for the disabled. I'm a paraplegic and sometimes it is necessary to identify that.  Thanks for the adivice, found it useful

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