How To Avoid Writing An Awful Cover Letter

How To Avoid Writing An Awful Cover Letter

If you’re wasting time reading this right now, you probably need a better job. That means you need a good cover letter. Allow us to give you some tips for success — with counterexamples from an all-too-real hilariously bad cover letter.

A tipster today forwarded us a cover letter they received from an applicant for a digital account manager job. We will use actual lines from that cover letter to help us illustrate the advice below. History need not be repeated.

DO: Make your points succinctly.

DON’T: “I excel in everything that I set out to do. I’m not vain, I just refuse to fail. The word “fail” and its variations are not in my vocabulary.”

DO: Say that you follow instructions well.

DON’T: “If my employer gives me a task on Monday and asks for it by Thursday, I will have the project completed by Tuesday. If my employer asks me to contact four distributors for his product, I’ll contact 20 distributors.”

DO: Explain that you’re a dedicated worker.

DON’T: “I don’t just think outside the box, I stand on top of it. I aim to appease my employer. If he/she isn’t satisfied with my work, I will sweat blood and tears until I get them the result that they are enamoured with. If my employer wants me to be knowledgeable of a certain person, place or thing; I will research that particular subject until I know everything that Google, Lycos, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves and Encyclopedia Britannica has to say about them/it.”

DO: Underpromise, overdeliver.

DON’T: “I am a very fast learner and a very dedicated individual and I guarantee that I don’t produce anything less than perfection; anything less than one-hundred percent is not acceptable.”

DO: Keep any office romances under wraps.

DON’T: “Besides passion, I offer you an individual with four years of intense academic training.”

DO: Close by thanking the employer for their time.

DON’T: “I am the missing link that will make your chain complete.”

[Pic: Shutterstock]


  • The problem is there will be quite a few management types who actually like this kind of cover letter!

    It’s such a gamble – do you cater to the lowest common denominator and potentially get the job of your dreams, or aim to impress someone with an IQ that is hgher than their weight, landing a great boss but not that great of a job..?

  • Heh! A good example of what not to do! A cover letter is an Introduction, it’s like shaking hands with someone!

    So important to keep it succinct and highlight only the very best of skills and attributes, those that are in alignment with the job advertised. Tailor, tailor, tailor it!

    Employers are sooo busy, they don’t have time to read the twaddle! Just tell them how you have the right attributes, can add value, and make a difference to the bottom line.

    Always thank them for their time/consideration too! “Manners maketh man!” Cheers! D

  • My most recent cover letter that got me employment was a two-paragraph story about a tantrum I threw on an Ansett plane when I was 5; the day before I’d read a story about an Ansett plane crashing and lots of people dying and so when the fasten your seatbelt light came on I freaked out.

    Completely irrelevant to the job I was applying for, but to be honest I like to use my cover letter as a litmus test. If they want to hire me based on that, then they’re obviously cool guys. It stands to reason that I’ve been at this job for 16 months now and will remain here for the forseeable future.

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