What You Need to Eliminate from a Good Cover Letter

good cover letterA good cover letter spotlights a candidate’s strengths and how he or she would fit into an organization. Unfortunately, too many applicants fail to write a good cover letter. Typically, this can be attributed to three reasons:

  • Not including enough information.
  • Including too much information.
  • Not including the right kind of information.

Making these mistakes can lead to few or no job interviews, period.

Want to improve your chances of getting a phone call from an employer? Learn what to leave out of a good cover letter.

Generic Language

A cover letter is not simply a one-paragraph statement of your interest in a position. It is a place for you to sell your qualifications to a specific employer.

To do this, you must write a unique cover letter for each job for which you are applying.

Yale College recommends that you explain how your experience meets the qualifications of the job. Then show how your skills could benefit the organization. Also, this is a good opportunity for you to show your knowledge of the company. More than any other, this is a move that always impresses a hiring manager.

Excessive Wordiness

Corporate recruiting strategist John Sullivan says that a company receives an average of 250 resumes for every job opening. Hiring managers do not have time to read all the cover letters that are included. As a result, they appreciate ones that are short and to the point. And if you send a cover letter that exceeds one page? Your application is more likely to end up in the trash bin.

Summarizing the Resume

In Forbes, veteran writer Seth Porges says we mistakenly assume a cover letter is just a repeat of the resume. Basically, a rehash of the resume.

The employer already has a copy of your resume. So summarizing it does not improve your chances of getting an interview. As a result, Porges recommends you use the cover letter to show your personality and knowledge of the field. Sure, you can choose to reference an experience or event listed on your resume. But do so only to explain how that event aligns with skills or experience that make you a great candidate.

Talking About College

Katherine Goldstein is innovation editor for Slate. She has reviewed hundreds of resumes and cover letters during her tenure with the online magazine. One of her biggest pet cover letter pet peeves? When the letter talks about college, especially after the applicant has graduated. Like most employers, she is only interested in experiences that will help her company. Goldstein’s advice? If you’re not currently a student, do not mention your GPA. Or your Ivy League education. Or your college coursework or your senior thesis in your cover letter. And definitely do not attach a chapter of the thesis to your application.

Not Following Instructions

When Goldstein posts job openings, she frequently includes specific instructions for applying for the position. She does this, in part, to gauge respondents ability to follow instructions and see how detail-oriented they are. If they fail to follow instructions to the letter, they may be disqualified. Goldstein recommends that you read the submission instructions very carefully and follow them.

A good cover letter complements your resume. So avoid these common mistakes and your cover letter will be the star of the show.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Simply Hired.


Simply Hired



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