What Not to Say in Your Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Knowing what not to include in a cover letter is often a weakness for job seekers. Supplying information other than what employers are looking for in your cover letter can hurt your chances of getting hired.

While it is important to show confidence and enthusiasm, don't immediately express the desire for advancement. This tends to scare off employers for fear of having to provide a high salary. If you show too much eagerness to perpetually take on more challenging roles, you may be viewed by the employer as a job hopper – an undesirable label to earn – and give them the idea that you are likely to keep looking for something better. Employees who lack dedication create insecurity and instability for a company.

Unless the company asks you for salary requirements up front, you should not include them. Providing this information may cause you to miss out on opportunities. For example, if you state in your cover letter that your salary requirement is $45,000 annually, but the employer has plans to offer $50,000, you're missing out on compensation. On the other hand, if you overshoot your salary requirements, you may scare off the employer and miss out on an interview. If you are asked to share your salary expectations, do your research before throwing out a number; plenty of salary websites provide information on industry standards.

Another common slip-up occurs when applying for temporary positions. Many job seekers think that it's acceptable to state in their cover letters that they are looking for permanent work: It's inadvisable to make this statement unless asked specifically. While you may think you're advertising yourself as a potential long-term hire, you're also telling the hiring manager that you're open to leaving before you've completed the work. Although it's a temporary position, employers still seek stability throughout the duration of the job. In this case, employers always choose the candidate available to fulfill the duty.

Check and recheck a cover letter for typographical errors. You should always proofread for mistakes in spelling and grammar, including double checking the spelling of the company's name and the name and title of the person you're addressing. Also, do not exaggerate your experience, as it's important to be truthful about your skills and job history. Once the letter has been sufficiently edited, confirm that you are sending your cover letter with all the required or requested documents. Neglecting to attach or include all of your information shows a lack of attention and the inability to follow directions.

Writing a thoughtful, honest cover letter can lead to landing your dream job. Although you know you're the perfect fit for a particular job, making mistakes on your cover letter could cause you to miss out on the vital in-person interview that seals the deal.


Photo courtesy of alby farzan at flickr.com



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