What to Leave Out of a Cover Letter
A cover letter is a fairly short summary of who you are and what you're looking to accomplish. Cover letters can feature a lot of information, but there are some things you'll always want to leave out.
- Irrelevant life stories. If it doesn't relate to your education or career, leave it out. You can have personal information, but only if it ties back to why the employer should hire you, how the experience influenced your work ethic or understanding, or how the philosophy dictates your career path. If you can't (or don't) draw the connection back to the application at hand, leave it out.
- "Unemployed." You might be unemployed when you apply for a job, and that's okay. It's even okay to talk about it, provided that you do so the correct way. But don't use the word "unemployed" (or "laid off" or "fired.") Those all sound like things that were done to you. Instead, focus on what you're doing. If you're unemployed, talk about how you've been seeking the perfect fit for the last two months. Or discuss the volunteer work you've put in between jobs.
- The reason you left your last job. This counts as double if you had a bad experience. Note that this doesn't mean you can't talk about why you're seeking this job. You can talk about relocating, moving for a partner, moving to be a caretaker, or whatever. But don't talk about how your last job didn't appreciate you, or how your boss didn't pay you enough. Badmouthing, greed, and lack of loyalty to a company will all come across as red flags to an employer.
- Clichés and buzzwords. Don't say you're a "people-person" or an "out-of-the-box thinker," because that doesn't tell the employer anything new. Use solid examples or leave it out.
- Salary requirements. Talk about jumping the gun. This also applies to vacation time you'd need. Save it for the interview (if you get one).
- "References are available upon request." Most employers have that figured out. Either list the references or leave it all out.
Index of Cover Letter Examples