Unemployed? FUNemployed? Just out of college and looking for work? Here’s some help – The Wall Street Journal’s Fins Finance website just put together this resume-helping list of The Ten Worst Things To Put In Your Cover Letter, including employer turnoffs like “Personal Stories,” “Irrelevant Experience,” and “Wrong Company Info,” among others. The list is moderately informative, but the title is badly exaggerated — there are clearly WAY worse things than “Personal Stories” that a person could put in a cover letter.
To offer some more help in these tough economic times, here’s our far more comprehensive list of the 10 ACTUAL Worst Things To Put In Your Cover Letter. Happy employment!
1. Panther Death Threats
Threatening your prospective employer with a panther mauling may seem like an assertive, near-foolproof coverletter strategy, but research shows that it only increases your chances of getting hired by a marginal 6.7%, while it increases your chances of getting mauled by your own contracted panther by a far more significant 90,000% Don’t take the risk – keep that coverletter like a crappy zoo: panther-free.
2. Game Of Thrones Spoilers
It can be hard to resist the temptation to bring up HBO’s Game Of Thrones in every sentence you’re writing to a potential employer, but you simply have no way of knowing which episode of Game Of Thrones they’re on, or if they’ve even started watching it. Do you really want your first interaction with your potential boss to be you ruining the scene where Bran Stark’s direwolf goes down on that hot manticore? I’ll field that one: Game of NOes.
3. Giant Racial Slurs In All-Caps
This one should be self-evident, but you’d be surprised how often employers receive coverletters that include huge racial slurs inserted randomly throughout the information, usually illuminated like the letters in old sacred texts. This happens in over 30% of all coverletters (rounded down!) The only N-Word you should be thinking about is “No, don’t do this!”
4. Thinking Man Clipart
Everyone loves Clipart, right? NAY! Using tons of ‘Thinking Man’ Clipart may spruce up your boring coverletter and help you stand out, but it’ll also make you appear indecisive and human-featureless. So remember: Don’t THINK, DO Think About Not Doing This!
5. The Rough Draft Lyrics To Your Business Rap
Yo, yo yo, yo, check it –
My name is Jeff and I’m here to say,
I’m coverin’ this letter in a MAJOR way
Got so much education and experience
Shawty can’t fit it under a 10 foot Clear-e-ance,
I’m talkin bout one of those bridges yo,
But I digress and I gots to go!
So gimme this job and you won’t be sorry,
I’ll win this job like I win at Sorry!
I mean, this is kind of a poor example because this rap is great and it’ll definitely get you hired, but I’m assuming that your rap will be way worse so you shouldn’t include it.
6. Just A Scarface Poster
Scarface is great because it shows initiative and the employer will think the world is yours, but if you submit ONLY a Scarface poster they will not know your name or how to contact you for your instant job.
7. Harry Potter Erotic Fanfiction
We all know the Three T’s of Coverlettering: Tell, Titillate, Tremendous Success. But “Titillate” does not mean titillate with imaginary sex stories, particularly when you run the risk of your employer being unfamiliar with the Harry Potter series and thus merely perplexing him with terms like “Ron Weasley” or “French Tickler Spell”. Here’s a much easier “T” to remember: “Tom, if that is your name, don’t do this.”
8. Scratch And Sniff Stickers
Scratch and sniff stickers, while amusing and delicious, will hurt your coverletter twofold: 1) Your employer will likely pay more attention to sniffing the stickers than to your qualifications, and as we all know, “Qualifications = QUALITYfications”, and 2) Your employer will think you are a child. Who wants to hire a child? No one after the Childrens’ Factory Labour Law Agreement of 2004, that’s who.
9. A Mix
“Yo John Cusack, you can’t make a chick a mix til date three!!!” – That’s a line that isn’t in the movie High Fidelty. But it is very good advice when it comes to coverletters — do not try to slip your prospective employer a mix to showcase your broad range of musical interests. And YES, before you ask this screen you’re looking at, that rule applies to mixes where every song corresponds to one of your defining traits (e.g., Rush’s “Working Man” followed by BTO’s “Taking Care Of Business” followed by “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (cause you’re good at not starting fires). Don’t MIX it up – keep it separated!*
(*This was not an endorsement to make a mix with “Keep Em Separated” on it — sorry for the confusing advice!)
10. One Million Penises
Come on, you can’t do this. It’s not the 90s anymore, bub! GET WITH THE TIMES.