A while back, Web Watch covered 10 WORDS NOT TO USE ON YOUR RESUME.
We figured it was time to also provide job-seekers 10 THINGS NOT TO INCLUDE ON YOUR COVER LETTER, especially after one recent interview session that Web Watch had to sit through recently.
Granted, the issue we had was with the resume itself rather than with the cover letter, but hey – it’s all in the name of a good story, isn’t it?
The candidate presented a resume that showed appropriate skills the job required – no issue there. But they decided to include a list of previous job experience that had absolutely no bearing on the job they were interviewing for.
Seriously, why would they include that they trained runway models how to model fashions if the job they were applying for had absolutely no relationship to the fashion industry? C’mon people – after you reach a certain age and success level in your career path, it’s time to exclude your GPA and college experiences from your resume. Nobody cares that the potential Vice President of Sales and Marketing spent their summer as a part-time employee at The Gap 25 years ago. Show us what you did last month, or the last five years.
So if you’re going to take the time to review your resume on a regular basis – and quite frankly, everybody should update their resume once a year to keep it relatively current — then you should also take the time to review your standard boilerplate cover letter to ensure that it matches.
So let’s take a look at those 10 things not to do on a cover letter:
- Keep it simple: the standard cover letter should have about 200 words or so. Make the reader want to see the resume
- Criticize the potential employer – duh. You’re supposed to wait until you’re hired to do that
- Personal stories – let the stories come out in the interview, and the resume should speak for itself.
- Awkward language – at least have someone proofread for grammar and spelling.
- Plagarized language – nobody actually talks in cliches, so why write like that?
- Irrelevant experience – The Gap or runway model training we mentioned above? Also not appropriate for a cover letter
- Arrogance – although Web Watch has heard stories of salesmen getting hired by using the phrase, “hire me – you can’t do any worse that with your current sales staff”. But again, that’s also something better suited for the interview itself
- Wrong company name or wrong cover letter – computers make it easy to make this mistake. Then again, Web Watch once got hired for a job even though we had typo’s on our contact information. So there’s still a chance for you if this happens.
- Cultural preferences – not appropriate in an interview, not appropriate here
- Jokes – seriously? Yeah, it happens. Don’t do it.
The best part about presenting an authoritative list like this is the comments on the site that point out the flaws with each bullet item and how it could be improved or rejected as an issue. Be sure to click that link and scroll down for some insights from hiring managers on what else makes a good cover letter.