Covering letters are tricky things but don’t panic – here are six things you should avoid doing to make sure your application doesn’t get passed over.

I’ve been playing the guitar for years!

Unless this is an application for a music teacher, please don’t mention how soulfully you strum those strings. Not even if you’re really, really soulful. Fact is, your potential employer will be scanning the letter for relevant experience and with each “I love trampolining” and “Dogs are so cute” their attention wanes ever further. No, it’s not fair because they bloody should read all your applications right to the end and really focus on every word – but they’re only human. So keep it relevant.

One would be ecstatic and honoured to take up this potential position you are offering on your digital world wide website.

Always read your covering letter out loud to spot any weird sentences; if it sounds like nothing you’d ever say to a person in real life (without them replying “ER WHAT?”), then simplify it. Paragraphs that sound like bad Jane Austen novels mixed with corporate speak aren’t going to impress anyone. Don’t worry about not knowing what “acquiesce” means, or the correct way to employ the term “moot point” (despite “moot” being in the Top Ten Words To Always Use Because They’re Great category), just concentrate on making sense and sounding like a human being.

Please please please let me work for you!!

The fact you’re sending in an application shows you really want to work for them – but it’s how much enthusiasm you have for the company, and for the role being advertised, that sets you apart from everyone else. Your word count is limited, so don’t bother pleading with them. Instead, say how much you’d like to work for them followed by all the reasons you’d be a perfect fit.

O2 and Bauer Media have jointly created GoThinkBig with a pledge to commit £5 million to its development and up to 30,000 work experiences (or work skills opportunities) for 16-25 year olds across the UK

Erm, did you just copy and paste that from the internet? We know what our company does, and throwing in a bit of knowledge is a good idea, but don’t labour over it and always put things in your own words. Mentioning it is fine, but whole paragraphs from Google are easily spotted. For a start, the sudden font changes are a big giveaway. As is the URL you’ve accidentally pasted. And the pop-up ad for casinos.

I am excited about the advertised position

Be specific! The other week I sifted through nearly 100 applications for editorial work experience, and only about ten seemed to know what role they were applying for. Is it a writing job? Say why you’d be great at doing that writing job. Is it a career in IT? Say what IT experience you’ve had and what courses you’ve done. Copy and paste the advertisement and double check you’ve covered all aspects of it – from what they’re looking for, to what you can do.

From 2010 to 2011 I worked at [insert company] and [insert company] then I moved on to [insert company]

Noooo that’s what your CV is for! Reference the places you’ve worked, sure, but only so you can elaborate on the skills you acquired during your time there (you want a professional water slide tester? I worked at Thorpe Park testing the water flumes and once I found a fault nobody else had which makes me the best in the world etc) as opposed to just listing your CV again.

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