What You Should Not Write in a Cover Letter

While the resume is a tried and true method for communicating important skills and experience to a prospective employer, a few short lines, dates and one line accolades can only go so far in flushing out your personality and qualifications.  For this reason, many employers or job applications also ask for some form of a cover letter.

From the traditional, three-paragraph formatted introductory missive to more detailed call and response narratives that answer an employer’s specific question, cover letters provide a more the in-depth cover letter to help narrow down their list of candidates.  A knack for successful communication is key in pretty much any position or field, making a cover letter a useful tool and mastering the art of crafting one essential to a candidate’s chances at scoring a position. Before you go running out to draft up a pages long narrative, however, there are a few things you should know about cover letter creation.  Read on for our handy list of what you should never write in your cover letter.

Improper Spelling and Grammar

Whether it’s on your resume proper or your cover letter, hiring managers have no bigger pet peeve than distracting errors in your job application.  Spelling mistakes are easily caught and corrected with most modern word processing programs. Grammatical slips are often harder to catch but preventable with a good proofread.

Having these types of obvious errors in your cover letter indicates that you’re not big on attention to detail; a pretty large turn off for most modern employers.  Before submitting your cover letter, be sure to look the document over one or two more times. Having a trusted friend or professional colleague review with a fresh pair of eyes also isn’t a bad idea since they’re likely to find any errors you may have missed on the first go round.

An old-fashioned salutation

While your grandmother, grade school teacher or that classic “miss manners” book may have instructed you in the art of old-school opening salutations, your modern and professional cover letter isn’t the place to put these pieces of sage advice into action.  “Dear Sirs” or “To Whom it May Concern” may tick off the politeness boxes, but the salutations won’t score you many points towards getting your application a second look.

Take some time to research for a recruiter or hiring manager’s individual name in order to provide a more personalized address.  Job openings will often list a position title of the person you’ll be reporting to but may leave off contact details. A little thoughtful internet research will help avoid your cover letter coming off as old-fashioned and may even set you apart from the crowd by drawing attention to your resourcefulness and professionalism.

Overused Cliches

Sure, you may be “goal-oriented” and “professionally driven” towards “career success” but when it comes to communicating vital information to a prospective employer, it’s often difficult to translate colloquialisms into relevant descriptions that help set you apart from other candidates.  

Being a “team player” is a great thing, but much more impactful would be discussing how you’ve successfully led multi-person teams to achieve company milestones or how you coordinated that large project last year that earned industry recognition.  Remember that in your cover letter cliches are, well, cliche and can quickly become overused and help you blend in with the application crowd rather than make your candidacy stand out.

As a closing note for cover letter don’t guidance, remember that the document is geared towards being a descriptive snapshot of your candidacy.  As such, your cover letter should get down to facts quickly and convey the important aspects of your skills, experience, and personality that may be difficult to explain in the more concise resume.  Think of the cover letter as your professional pitch to a potential employer and you’ll be well on your way to seeing dividends in the way of a callback or job offer.

Article Updated from the Original on April 2, 2018