10 Things You Should Never Write in a Cover Letter

10 Things You Should Never Write in a Cover Letter

Are you looking for a new job?

Then you have probably already perfected your CV demonstrating your skills, your ambition, and even your personality. But have you yet considered what you’ll be writing in a cover letter?

Often overlooked, rushed, or simply churned out in batch, you might be surprised at just how important the cover letter can be. In fact, it can often be the difference between your CV being reviewed or thrown out altogether.

So make sure you don’t make any of these potentially threatening mistakes.

What is a Cover Letter?

Just like an impressive CV, a Cover Letter is essential when applying for jobs. It will therefore need to make a positive impression in order for its reader to want to learn more about you.

Building upon the information in your CV, a cover letter should state in no uncertain terms why a particular company should hire you and in turn encourage the recruiter to give your job application the attention it deserves.

Bear in mind the importance of research prior to sitting down to write your cover letter.

Take the time to find out more about the company and the specifics of the job to which you are applying. Not only will carrying out such research give you the knowledge you require to tailor your cover letter to the style of the company but it will also allow you to demonstrate that you have a real interest in the role and the company itself.

What Not to Include in your Cover Letter. Ever.

As we have established, a good cover letter could mean the difference between being noticed and falling victim to the delete button. But other than the obvious missing typos or cringe worthy clichés make sure you avoid any of these as well:

Writing the Wrong Company Name

We’re pretty certain that nothing will get you ignored quicker.

Whilst it can be tempting to create a cover letter that suits all, you are running the risk of making this exact mistake. Instead take the time to ensure all information is accurate including the position you are applying for and the spelling of the hiring manager’s name.

Disclosing What You’re Not Good At

Why would you want to bring to your potential employers or hiring managers attention the things that you’re not so good at?

By stating what you are lacking you’re emphasising everything that an employer doesn’t need to know. Instead, remember that if you are looking for a job you are essentially in the business of sales. Your cover letter should therefore sell the skills, experience, and abilities that you actually have.

Opening the “Ex Files”

Explaining why you left your last job is no less awkward than talking about your ex on a first date. So don’t do it.

Your potential employer wants to know about how you are going to be an asset to their company and not necessarily about your past. This includes - and we hope this is an obvious point we’re making - bad mouthing your old boss or saying anything negative about your previous employment.

Negative information in your cover letter can easily encourage recruiters to avoid your CV altogether.

Underselling Yourself

Phrases such as “you probably have more qualified candidates lined up but” aren’t going to get you far.

Ensure that you accurately depict your abilities and avoid underselling yourself at all costs. This is the first hurdle in trying to impress the people who could award you the new role.

Not Proofreading

Spell check should be your friend whilst writing CVs and Cover Letters. So ensure you take advantage of the feature to run checks on all of the documents you’re sending to employees. We’d also suggest printing your work out and giving it a good read over with a red pen to ensure you really haven’t missed anything.

Failing to notice spelling mistakes, typos, or grammars errors will only demonstrate your lack of attention to detail and increase the chance of your CV being disregarded.


Phrases such as “I think” or “I feel” naturally exude uncertainty even if you think you’re being assertive in your statement.

“I think I’m a good candidate for this position” is not a particularly a strong statement we think you’ll agree. Instead explain how you will fit the role and what experience and skills you can bring to the table.

Me, Me, Me

Yes, your cover letter and CV is technically all about you. But, there is a fine line between confidently talking about your skills and being a little arrogant.

The best thing you can do it to focus on why you’ll be a great fit to the company, how you will be able to contribute, and the relevant previous experience you have.

Avoid Buzzwords & Clichés

We understand that it might be tempting to include descriptions such as “team player” and “proactive” but don’t.

If, like us, you’ve experienced the interview rounds of The Apprentice then watching through a TV screen is about as close as you’ll get when witnessing the embarrassment of overused and almost meaningless clichés.

Remember that anyone can write these words for the sake of simply including them, but they won’t tell someone anything real about you or your experience.

Stating the Obvious

Many make the innocent mistake of including such phrases as “I’m qualified for this position”. But, there really is no need to restate the obvious.

It’s safe to assume that if you are applying for the job then you meet its criteria and preferred qualifications. Instead, use the small amount of space you have to grab attention with meaningful information.

Salary Requirements

Unless you are directed to do so by the employer, avoid discussing salary requirements and expectations at all costs.

Not only is it presumptuous that you’ll be given an interview let alone the job it is important to demonstrate that you are interested in the role itself and that money is not your primary motivation.

Get In Touch

If you’ve got tips, or real-life examples, of what not to include in a Covering Letter we’d love to hear.

Drop us an email or find us on Facebook and Twitter to share your advice.

Posted by Paul Randall
10th October 2016