11 Common Cover Letter Mistakes You Should Avoid 


Do you need to write a cover letter  for a job? In most cases, the answer is yes. Your cover letter may make the difference between obtaining a job interview or having your resume ignored, so it makes good sense to devote the necessary time and effort to writing effective cover letters.

A cover letter is a document sent with your resume to provide additional information on your skills and experience.


Why Cover Letter

Use your cover letter to show the employer you can meet their business needs. Advertised job vacancies often attract many applicants. To stand out, you need to show the employer that:

  • you’ve read the job ad closely and
  • you genuinely believe your skills and experience make you the right person for the job.

A good cover letter will encourage the employer to read your résumé.


Implications of a Bad Cover Letter

Destroying your well-written resume with a terrible cover letter makes your candidacy very doubtful to the employer. Even though many of HR managers neglect reading cover letters of their candidates, some of them do; so if you didn’t do a great job with writing a good letter, your whole job application could easily get into a trash bin.

Do you know that these common mistakes render your cover letter unacceptable? Avoid these common mistakes in your cover letter:


1. Resume Without a Cover Letter Included

Once again, your cover letter can be simply ignored by the recruiter, but there are some, who pay quite much attention to them. Therefore, you must include the letter anyway.

2. Improper Cover Letter Format

Applicants tend to forget about the strictness of business letter formats, missing essential letter parts, such as recipient information, return addresses, dates etc. Make sure your cover letter looks professional and standardized.

3. Not Personalizing

Addressing your cover letter to unspecific person, using forms, like “Dear HR Director” or “Dear Sir or Madam” isn’t something your employer would be pleased with. On the contrary, this action demonstrates your lazy approach and your disinterest even for finding out the name of the person who will hire you. After all, you got all the sources of information that you could use for your benefit: for instance, the Internet, contacts of the company and phone books to track down names of your possible recruiters. Just take another 5-10 minutes and research.

4. Emphasizing on Yourself And Your Career

Let’s be honest: your HR manager has no interest in how much profit you’ll receive from the job – on the contrary, he wants to know which way your qualifications meet the employer’s needs. Be specific and explain how you might enrich the particular business.

5. Using Cliches and Being Formulaic

Common cliches like “Enclosed please find my resume” or “As you can see on my resume enclosed herewith.” are very frustrating to almost each recruiter: after all, it’s just matter-of-course. Instead of being obvious and boring, use the first paragraph to catch the manager’s attention so that he would get interested in knowing you better.

6. Spellings and Grammar Errors

Typical grammar, spelling errors or even small typos present in your cover letter can ruin the employer’s impression and expectations regarding your erudition and literacy. After all, there’s no prestigious company, who’d like to hire a person with poor grammar or the one, who isn’t quite attentive and doesn’t bother reviewing his or her documents. Therefore, proofread the letter very carefully.

7. Claiming Something Without Any Proof

It’s easy to select right words that sound tempting and professional, for instance “have deep IT knowledge” or “possess excellent communication skills”. Nevertheless, for the employer these are just empty words, if there were no evidence followed afterwards. Give examples for each written claim, because they need proof.

8. Rephrasing the Resume

Don’t waste time on things that have been already mentioned in your resume, but you simply want to add them to your cover letter. Yes, you can highlight something really valuable from it, although there’s no need to make a resume duplicate out of the letter.

9. Telling Your Long Success/Life Story

Just remember: it’s not a novel, where the author has a freedom to make long-paged descriptions of the characters’ lives and so on. A professional cover letter is no longer than a single page. In most cases, HR managers wouldn’t bother spending more than 1-2 minutes for both applicant’s resume and cover letter, which means you have to be concise and convincing. Like they say: brevity is the soul of wit.

10. Having Same Cover Letter For Every Job

Making one-size-fits-all letters won’t guarantee any success, because professional recruiters know how to identify those easily. Consequently, they may not even consider your candidacy anymore. Address to each company personally, use specifics and then you will definitely stay on track.

11. Not Explaining How You Would Fit Within the Business.

Review your cover letter from the employer’s point-of-view. Employers want applicants who understand them. Be clear about what you have to offer and how you can meet their needs.

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