How Not To Write A Cover Letter


OK now, I have to admit I have not written many covering letters during my career, but I sure have seen a thousand of these after over 30 years in management. A majority of cover lettesr I had reviewed were absolutely horrendous and makes you wonder how in the world some people got their current positions to even begin with.  There are plenty of articles available that tell you how to write a covering letter.  Well, I am going in the opposite direction here and will tell you what not to do in my own words and some sensitive points that others will beat around the bush with.

  1. Don’t address me as “Dear Sir” or “To Whom this may concern”.  Take some of your “Oh so precious time”, get off the X Box and do the research and find out what my name is.  I do not go around the office being called “Dear Sir”.  I have a name and I want you to find it out and address me properly. Even worse than that are cover letters that say: “Hey Dude” or “What’s Up”.  I mean really do you want a job or not.  Be professional about it. Also, do not address me by my first name, I do not know you and that privilege is reserved for people who know me
  1. Do not misspell my name.  That is even worse that the “Dear Sir” as noted above.  Nothing gets me going off my rocker more than people who spell other people’s names wrong.  Believe me when I say if you do any of these first two, your covering letter and resume are going right into the too often used shredding machine.

OK, now that we have got past the first line of the covering letter, let’s get into the rest of the stuff that if you do will offer you no chance of getting that job.

  1. Don’t tell me that this is a stepping stone job for you so you can do something else later in your career. Example: "My eventual goal is to have a career in architecture and feel this position as an office assistant in your firm would allow me to gain some experience”.   I want someone who will do 100% in the job and will be a long-term employee.  This tells me it is just a short-term job till you can find something else. Trust me I don’t want to pay you or babysit you while you look for your perfect job. If you want the job advertised or applying for then be convincing in that opening sentence
  1. Don’t give me experience that does not relate to the job you are applying for. The fact that you spent 2 years working as a dog kennel attendant does me no good in evaluating whether you are going to be qualified for any other position other than a dog kennel attendant.  Be relevant on your points and don’t try to fool me, as I am the wise and knowledgeable “OZ”, I will be able to tell your trying to pull one over on me  once I start reading your resume, that is if I even decide to read it after your covering letter garbage.
  1. If you are going to tell me why you would be a good candidate for the position, then get to the point.  Don’t put in a lot of fluffy stuff.  Hey, I am a busy executive trying to find someone for a specific position, if you do not qualify don’t waste my time.  But if you do qualify then tell me about it, tell me the details of how you were the best dog washer at the kennel or whatever it was.

I do not want to hear about every hobby you have and how you were the snooker champion at your local pub last year, or how you were the star of your town’s football team. I don’t care about all that stuff.  Good for you but that does not mean you are good for my job.  I do not want to read a novel, I want detail short specifics and how your experience does relate to what I am looking for.

  1. Don’t send me a two paragraph cover letter. Show me that you are literate.  That does not mean to tell me what books you have read.  Literate means knowing how to put a paragraph together and structure it so a halfway intelligent person can at least make sense of it.  Here is an extremely bad example of that:


Dear Mr. Smith:

I want really bad your job to do the duties of administrator for your company.  I hear your company pays real good and so want to work for that kind of place.  I know I would be gooder than others at hat type of job that pays well.

Let me please interview with you.

See you soon

Need Ajob

  1. Do not let spell check do all your work for you.  Yes, spell check is wonderful but sometimes it just does not work right and will put in a word that has no relevance into your letter.  Spelling errors and/or improper use of words tell me that you are not thorough in doing your job completely and that you would not pay attention to the details of cleaning out the dog stalls. Do make sure you use spell check, but also remember to read it over to make sure all the right words are being used.

OK in doing some research here I found what probably one of the worse covering letters ever written.  Word had it that this guy sent out hundreds of these and did not get a response. He would fill in the name of the company and the position and just send it out. So my last word of advice is “Do Not use the below Covering Letter as a template for your letter".

Deer Sir or Madam

I have wanted to join _______ to work as a ________ from an early age as you are a big prestigious employer that lots of people want to work for and you offer high salaries.  I also would like to work in another country and you are a global company.

Hoping to hear from your shorty

“Loser that wrote this letter”


Article contributed by Edpanek for jobsRmine

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