Things Not to Say in Your Cover Letter

Nancy Anderson
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Job preparation requires candidates to craft cover letters that capture the interest of hiring managers and clearly outline why they should be hired. Unfortunately, you can halt your career progress very easily by saying the wrong things in your letter and derailing your chances of an interview. Avoid basic mistakes that can land your application in the trash and damage your credibility with potential employers.

The Overly Eager Candidate

It is important to show enthusiasm in a cover letter, but candidates who are overly eager often appear desperate, explains Jennifer Parris with FlexJobs. Avoid phrases such as "I'll accept any job with your company" or "I just want to get my foot in the door." Hiring managers are seeking candidates who are confident and value their own skills and experience. Managers also prefer individuals who are looking specifically for opportunities that match their qualifications rather than individuals who will take any type of position, especially when that means they are overqualified for the role in question.

The Up Close and Personal Candidate

Prospective employers do not care about your family situation, obligations and home life — except in instances where these things might negatively affect your work. Your personal life should therefore not be a factor during the hiring process. Avoid divulging information about your relationship status, children or personal habits to avoid any risk of deliberate or accidental discrimination. Potential employers may view personal obligations as an obstacle or assume that your availability will be limited. Keep your cover letter professional and focus solely on your work experience, skills and hobbies that are related to the industry.

The Boring Candidate

The purpose of a cover letter is to capture the interest of the hiring manager and prompt an interview. Your job preparation materials should be creative and professional so that they demonstrate why you are a good fit for the position and that you stand apart from the competition. Avoid common opening statements such as "I am applying for xxx position" or "Please see my enclosed resume." Instead, begin with a statement that highlights your personality, your professionalism and your knowledge of the company's operations, products and services.

The Unfocused Candidate

Repeating cover letter mistakes can land your application materials in the trash time and time again if you are not careful. Ensure that each cover letter is focused and directly outlines the position you are seeking, why you match the person specification and how it supports your career goals. You must also show how you fit within the company's culture and the positive impact you can make on the business. Avoid phrases such as "I'm not sure where I want to see my career go" or "I just want to see if this industry is right for me." This type of phrasing does not reassure hiring managers that you are willing to make a long-term job commitment.

Job candidates who can articulately outline their career goals, skills and experience within professional cover letters are more likely to obtain interviews and impress potential employers. Ruthlessly edit your resume and application materials to remove common errors to increase your odds of nailing the perfect job.

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