Pet Peeve: "Various" in a Cover Letter

It's not wrong, it's just one of my pet peeves: using the word "various" in a cover letter. And I wonder if employers don't feel the same way.

About 90% of the cover letters I see have the word "various" in them. Heck, some have it several times. "Various this" and "various that," as if the more various your experience the stronger job candidate you are. Usually not!

In today's world of job search, it's an employer's market. Most employers would prefer a specialist over a generalist. And believe me, no matter what your career field, you're competing with specialists.

So your best tactic is to look like a specialist with clearly defined skills and experience — not a jack-of-various-trades.

Writing a New Cover Letter?

If you're writing a new cover letter, I strongly suggest you not use "various" at all. Just pretend the word doesn't even exist. You'll see, your letter will be just fine... even stronger without it.

How to Edit a Cover Letter

When I work on a cover letter that has the word "various" in it, the first thing I do is see what happens if I just delete the word. Does the sentence lose anything? Usually not. For example:

Instead of:
I worked on various website projects including site design and content development.

Delete "various" so it reads:
I worked on website projects including site design and content development.

See how the second version is shorter, more direct, and doesn't lose a bit of meaning?

What to Say Instead of "Various"

If I run into a case where the sentence loses its meaning without the word "various." I think of another word or phrase to use instead.

Here are some examples of how I would replace "various" with something else.

Option 1: "A number of"

Instead of:
My experience includes various types of legal cases including civil litigation.

Write:
My experience includes a number of legal cases including civil litigation.

Option 2: "Diverse"

Instead of:
With my background working with various types of clients, I am familiar with some very subtle training issues.

Write:
With my background working with a diverse group of clients, I am familiar with some very subtle training issues.

Option 3: "Several"

Instead of:
There were various times when I solved customer IT problems without having to issue a tech support ticket.

Write:
There were several times when I solved customer IT problems without having to issue a tech support ticket.

Option 4: "A range of"

Instead of:
I presented various options to the group.

Write:
I presented a range of options to the group.

What other ways can you think of to get around using "various" in your cover letter? Tell us in the comments section!

Need ideas for what to write in your cover letter? Check out these:

5 thoughts on “Pet Peeve: "Various" in a Cover Letter

  1. This website is really helpful. I have changed my old style with the new one.
    I need to update my cover letter and resume format every quarter
    Regards,

    • Vichet,
      Good luck with all that updating. You’re smart to stay on top of it. It’s an great investment of your time.
      Cheers!

  2. Susan,

    I have difficulty writing cover letters. I have this tendency to use the word various in my cover letters. The last couple of cover letters that I have written, I have not used the word various after reading this post.
    Thank you for posting this.

  3. As someone who has used this word – various – too often, I thankyou & will follow your advice in my next cover letters. After a prolonged period of job hunting, I have developed a blog (as therapy) and I will provide a link to your website.
    Thanks,
    Carmen

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