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What NOT to Do When Writing a Cover Letter

cover letter

What NOT to Do When Writing a Cover Letter

If you dread writing a cover letter for job applications, you’re not alone. In fact, with only 45% of hiring managers claiming to read the letter, many people question if they should write one at all. But there is still enough research and insight from recruiters to say that you should – as long as you write it right and avoid these common pitfalls:

cover letter

Tell your life story

Remember that the cover letter is delivered in tandem with your resume. This means:

  1. You don’t need to repeat your resume in the cover letter.
  2. The resume and cover letter need to be connected.

Filling the cover letter with the history of all of your jobs and experiences, how  much you enjoyed university when you got the degree listed under your education, and the detailed relationship history between you and the reference you listed are not what goes in the letter. Instead, tailor the letter to the job you are applying for, keep information brief, and remember to address what’s in it for them, (not what’s in it for you).

Talk about yourself (too much!)

Speaking of what’s in it for them, this is an important nuance of the document that is often overlooked. The purpose of the cover letter is to bridge the gap between you and the company you are applying to. In order to do this, you need the company to know what you can offer them. In other words: What makes you a desirable candidate??

The cover letter is the time where you take your particular skills and experiences and angle them towards the current job you are applying for and explain how they benefit the employer. Simply talking about these skills and experiences isn’t enough – and your resume pretty much already does that. Hit the ball out of the park by painting a picture of how valuable you’ll be to the person/company reading your letter!

Become an instant fan

While you shouldn’t spend the whole cover letter talking about yourself, you also shouldn’t spend the whole thing professing how much you like the company and how great they are. It comes across as inauthentic, and really, does nothing to show them how you can serve the company and what you will bring as an employee. Focus on that instead.

Botch the basics

Before you click send, go back to basics! Make sure you edit and proofread your cover letter thoroughly, removing any spelling or grammatical errors. Double check the name and contact information of who you are sending it to, including the company name, address, and job title. If you don’t have a name to address it to, call up the company and ask or do some investigation online before reverting to using, “To Whom it May Concern.”


While cover letters may not be the most fun thing to write, and applying for jobs can be tedious and time consuming, when you get a few things right along the way, you’ll end up applying for fewer jobs before landing your dream career. Take the time to put some thought into your cover letters and you’ll start to see positive results in the responses you get!