A cover letter is a very important part of your job application and you should be taking as much care writing this as you do your CV – if not more. Recruiters will often read a cover letter, but just scan over your CV – so it’s the perfect opportunity for you to summarise your background and experience. Your cover letter can make the difference between getting selected for an interview – or not – so it’s essential you get it right.
Your cover letter should avoid making the wrong impression and include useless information that make it harder for the reader to focus on your best bits. So here’s our top tips of what to leave out of your cover letter:
- False information. Just like you wouldn’t lie on your CV, you don’t lie on your cover letter, or in your interview, or anywhere. It’s just a No No – you will get caught out if you do as recruiters will check up on information you give them.
- Spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. It should show your attention to detail and can give the reader a good idea of what your writing skills are like – which could be a part of the role so they need to be on top form! Check your cover letter and get somebody else to check it too, just to make sure.
- It shouldn’t be pages and pages long as you want to keep the reader engaged and interested. Avoid waffling on and on and keep it to a couple of pages maximum, or if you can then just one page is ample. Look at your spacing too so it looks spread out and easy on the eye, and use bullet points to break up large paragraphs.
- Don’t mention qualifications that you don’t have. Statements such as “Despite my lack of sales experience… “ should be avoided. Better not to draw attention to your limitations, but rather to focus on your key skills that will enable you to thrive in the role.
- Explanations for leaving past jobs or negative comments about a current or past employer as part of why you are looking for work. Employers tend to view such comments as an indication of possible attitude or performance problems.
- Information not relevant to the role. This will just distract the recruiter and employer from your core messages. All you need to focus on is your key skills and experience that relate to the job specification – evidence that you are the best person for the role.
- What you want or don’t want from the role. The recruiter isn’t interested in this – they can leave that part for the interview. All they want to know when they read your cover letter is what you have to offer the company.
- Too much modesty. It’s okay to sell yourself to the recruiter, but you don’t want to come across as arrogant or big headed – it could put them off. Focus on accomplishments and results rather than how amazing you are as a person!