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What not to write in a cover letter

Published: Monday 13th July 2020

A thoughtful, well-written cover letter can compliment your CV. It gives you the chance to frame your background and lets recruiters draw the right conclusions in regards to your qualifications and how good a fit you are to the job. Many job seekers get it wrong as they don’t know how to format it, what to include and what to leave out. Here are a few cover letter examples on what you should not include. Read on to find out how to avoid common mistakes in order to catch the hiring manager’s attention.

Don’t use your cover letter to introduce yourself

Cover letters first appeared in the 1950s. Back then they were the only way to demonstrate your personality and show who you are prior to qualifying for an interview. Nowadays, the means to get your personality across are endless. Considering you have an online presence, recruiters can find out more about you as a person quick and easy via your Twitter or LinkedIn profile. All they have to do is type your name into Google to see exactly who you are and what you’re about. Therefore, you certainly don’t need a 350-word cover letter to introduce yourself in detail.

Notepad and pen on wooden background and text concept. Cover letter tips and mistakes to avoid.

Don’t use claims without evidence

Instead of simply saying you’re good at what you do, provide evidence to back your capabilities and qualifications up. For instance, if you’re applying for a marketing role, avoid stereotypical phrases like ““My skills and experience are an excellent fit for this position.” That’s generic, vague and will add no value to strengthening your job application throughout your job search. Instead, describe how you’ve been involved in Marketing, in your previous roles and how you’ve exceeded client expectations of lead generation (with specific numbers, if possible). In other words, show how effective you have been in the past by being as specific as possible and how you are capable of meeting the standards and knowledge they’re seeking.

Don’t include lies in your cover letter

Telling lies, writing inaccuracies or stretching the truth is one way to set yourself up for letting down your future employer once hired. Steer clear of skills you don’t really possess or overselling yourself. Over-promising and under-delivering is not a recipe for success.

Don’t include salary expectations in your cover letter

Salary expectations are another thing among those you should not include. Even if you’re required to, be vague and give a very wide salary bracket. You don’t want to give the impression that money is your only motivation for applying. You also want to put yourself in a strong position to negotiate your salary at a later point and even better in person!

Shot of young man sitting at table looking away and thinking. Thoughtful businessman sitting home office.

 Avoid negative comments about other employers

Avoid including any negative comments about your current or previous employer. Employers tend to view such comments as an indication of possible attitude or performance problems. Instead, it’s better to keep your letter positive, focusing on why you’re the right person for this role.

 Don’t write about what you want… or don’t want

Don’t write about what you want to get out of the job or your potential employer. The precious space in your cover letter should focus on what you have to offer to them. Similarly, avoid mentioning anything you don’t like about the job, the schedule or the salary offered. Save your thoughts for when you pass the interview stage and receive a job offer to negotiate.

Reasons for leaving your job

Shot of young man sitting at table looking away and thinking. Thoughtful businessman sitting home office.

You don’t need to include the reasons for leaving your past job. Especially if they are negative because you’re dissatisfies or were made redundant. Your cover letter is the right place for you to express your positivity and how good a match you are!

Being too trite or a superfan of the company

Phrases like, “I’d like to apply for a job at…”, “I believe I am the perfect candidate for this position,” “I am an experienced, goal-oriented team player.”, “I’m everything that you’re looking for… and more!” will make people cringe! Avoid such comments by all means. On a final note, nobody likes insincere flattery. It can leave an impression that you aren’t authentic, hence cannot be trusted. Consequently, focus on building a relationship with the hiring manager.

Don’t forget to keep it short and include interesting details, especially any numbers or stats as proof that you make results happen. For more job search top tips, visit our Zoek InfoHub. For fresh UK opportunities across all sectors, search and apply on Zoek today

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