Things You Shouldn’t Do on Your Cover Letter


The cover letter is a crucial part of the hiring process. Often times, it is an applicant’s only opportunity to get the employer’s attention. This is the first step in getting noticed, as one’s résumé may not even be read after reading a poor, uninteresting cover letter. The purpose of a cover letter is to make an amazing first impression that differentiates you from the hundreds of applicants that are likely to be applying for that same position. Once you have described your qualifications and passion for the job and have captivated the reader, you must make sure to communicate your interest in that specific organization, emphasizing how this company can benefit from hiring you. As long as you have mentioned all these main points, and are able to do so within 3-4 paragraphs, you are on your way to the next step in the hiring process. With that being said, here are some things you should not do on your cover letter:

1. Do not send a generic cover letter to the employer. Your cover letter must be unique! In order to stand out, you must enhance your letter to the company. Review the job description before you begin to write it and incorporate the requirements it entails. Of course, do not just reiterate them, but integrate them in the letter so that you can name them while building upon how you attained those qualities or how you achieved those qualifications. Do your research on the company so you can explain why you are specifically interested in that employer. Keep in mind that your letter is likely to be one in a stack of hundreds of letters, so individuality is especially important. Also, you should not send the same cover letter to other employers if applying for multiple companies. Because different companies require different things, you must customize it depending on what each company desires, regardless of the fact that your qualifications will remain the same. Do not forget to sound enthusiastic in your descriptions!

2. Do not write in a colloquial manner. Unless you are fully aware that the company is more lax in their hiring manner and that the job requires a more laidback personality, then you should keep a professional tone. As you actively promote yourself, do so with tact and skill. Also make sure that your grammar is correct, all words are spelled correctly, and punctuation is used properly. Do not use contractions. Regardless of whether the job involves any type of writing or not, these mistakes in themselves can already give the reader a sense of what kind of person you are professionally. Therefore, make sure to thoroughly proofread your letter. A second pair of eyes is always better as they may notice errors you might have missed.

3. Do not attempt to sell yourself to the employer by giving out personal information. Unless this information is for some reason required for consideration, it is useless to tell the reader personal stories about a divorce, job loss, or anything of the sort. Not only will it make you sound desperate for the job, but it also may give the reader the impression that the stories are fabricated, which already gives them a negative view of yourself. You can be creative in how you sell yourself, but always be honest. Do not tell of the negative events, but rather focus on the positive. Examples of this can be having received an award for bestseller or being promoted in a short amount of time.

4. Do not make a cover letter mainly about how this job can be advantageous for you. While it is perfectly fine to state what you hope to learn or gain from working there, it should not take up a majority of the letter. The letter should, as I mentioned before, mainly emphasize how this company can benefit from hiring you. Matters such as salary requirements or health benefits should not be stated in this letter, as they will be discussed later on in the hiring process.

5. Do not make the letter complex and lengthy. Cover letters must be simple and limited to one page. This may be a difficult task to do. Start off by not using words that are so complex that the reader might have to use a dictionary to understand your letter. They are unlikely to do this, so keep it simple. It is also probably best to avoid any cliché lines that you think may make you sound clever. You may ask yourself, “How can I sell myself and simultaneously keep to a minimum?” Doing this is definitely possible. One can highlight the main points and appear both appealing and interested in a concise manner. Chances are, the reader will stop reading after one page because they still have many more to read, so it is best to keep within this minimum.

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