10 Things You Shouldn’t Write in Your Cover Letter

cover letter10 Things You Shouldn’t Write in Your Cover Letter

Who loves writing cover letter? Anyone?

I understand the silence after this question. When you’re supposed to describe your passions, interests, qualifications, and skills in a formal letter, it seems like you’re losing yourself. That doesn’t make sense: you’re trying to describe everything you are and you lose your own personality somewhere along that writing. Cover letters often end up stiff and lifeless. That’s because people are usually including things that don’t belong in a cover letter.

Let’s see: what are the things you shouldn’t write in a cover letter? We’ll list 10 of them.

  1. Long paragraphs

If you ask a hiring manager how long a cover letter should be, you’ll get this answer: keep it in a single page. Some of them prefer it even shorter. That’s because they don’t have much time to read the cover letters and they want to get as much information as possible in as little time as possible.

Does that mean you should write a short cover letter in a single, long paragraph? Absolutely not! When you separate the content in paragraphs, it’s much easier to read. Maybe that doesn’t make sense in theory, since it’s the same content after all. In practice, however, long paragraphs are hard to digest.

  1. Fake recommendations and contacts

If you’re a candidate for an interview, you can be sure that the hiring manager will want to check and verify the recommendations. Don’t make them fake.

  1. Photos

Since job applications are provided in electronic format, some people think they’re allowed to include photos or even GIFs in a cover letter. Remember: this is a serious thing. You should definitely present your fun side in the cover letter, but don’t do that in a way that makes you look irresponsible. That could work only in extreme situations. Chances are: it won’t work.

  1. “To whom it may concern”

When job applicants don’t know who they are addressing the letter to, this is the usual phrase they go for. It’s a serious mistake! It shows you didn’t do your homework and you don’t know who you’re addressing the letter to. Make that effort; find out who the hiring manager or head of the HR department is.

  1. Controversy

Unless you’re applying for a position that has something to do with politics, don’t talk politics in your cover letter. A sane employer doesn’t care about your religious or political points of view. Stay focused and answer this main question in the cover letter: what makes you suitable for the job?

  1. Complex sentence structures

When you really want to sound smart, you tend to write longer, complex sentences with words you found in the dictionary. You may think such an approach presents you as an eloquent person, but it really makes the hiring manager tired. If you can’t find the right approach, it’s wise to use a writing and editing service. The professional editor will improve your cover letter in terms of clarity, logical flow, and readability. Your personal voice will still be visible.

  1. Salary expectations

Unless the ad says you’re expected to clarify your salary requirements in the cover letter, then do not include that detail. It’s important to show you’re interested in the job, not the money. When you’re invited for an interview and you’re asked about the finances, you can set a realistic requirement.

  1. Inflated skills and qualifications

Reading Dan Brown doesn’t make you a passionate reader. Being a member of a team doesn’t make you the team leader. Taking an introductory online course in history doesn’t make you an expert in that field. The employer will check the facts. As for your skills, they will make sure to check them during the interview. If you mentioned being a passionate reader, they will start a conversation that can reveal your lies.

You are great as you are! If you’re applying for a position you’re qualified for, there’s no need to lie.

  1. Personal details

The employer doesn’t care how much you love your wife/husband and kids. You may think that including those details would make the letter seem more lively and personal, but you’re wrong. They make it seem irrelevant. Focus on the things related to the job you’re applying for.

  1. Negative comments about previous or current employers

When job applicants are trying to explain their motives for getting a new job, they usually start explaining how bad their current employer is. Do not do that in the cover letter! There’s no need to express your dissatisfaction with the low payment or the bad treatment you’re getting. The attitude of a complainer will scare a new employer off.                

Now that you know what you should not include in the cover letter, it’s going to be easier for you to write it. If you already have the letter, make sure to remove these 10 points that ruin it. You’ll be left with a clean document that shows your passion, skills, and interest in the position. Those are the right aspects to focus on.  


Lisa Wheatly is from Australia. Lisa believes analytical thinking and an enquiring mind are her strongest points, and she does her best to put them to good use. Lisa is a consultant of young entrepreneurs, and she feels that her knowledge of the human mind allows her to accurately assess the abilities of the young businessmen.


10 Things You Shouldn’t Write in Your Cover Letter
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10 Things You Shouldn’t Write in Your Cover Letter
These are 10 things you shouldn’t write in your cover letter according to a leading Resume Coach - from researched and practiced strategies.
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