5 Most Damaging Cover Letter Mistakes

Nancy Anderson
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Your cover letter displays not only your skills and experience but also shows hiring managers your personality and professional nature. Stay clear of common pitfalls when drafting this document to ensure your application materials are put at the top of the list, ultimately securing you an interview and a job offer.

Promoting Skills You Lack

Even if you feel you are not the most qualified applicant for the job, do not point out your inadequacies when writing a cover letter. Instead of pointing out the skills you lack, focus on the skills you possess that may appeal to the employer. Scan through the job description and advertisement to highlight keywords and skills, and provide examples to show proficiency. Sell your experience, and focus on how you can positively impact the business.

Explaining Why You Left Former Employers

Avoid focusing on the past when writing your cover letter during your job search. Even though you may have had a negative experience with a former employer or felt unfilled in your last position, focusing on less-than-stellar moments of your career portrays a negative attitude. Instead, focus on what you are looking to achieve in the future. Note how you see yourself excelling and advancing within the company structure. Detail your plans and aspirations for the field to display your excitement and eagerness to join the team.

Bringing Up Money and Salary

Your cover letter is not the appropriate place to discuss salary. Avoid including your ideal price point this early in the application process. Wait to discuss salary until the interview or when you are asked by the employer. Rather, continue to detail your qualifications and skills to prove you are worth the dollar amount you may eventually propose during the hiring process. Applicants who mention money in application materials appear to be more focused on financial gain versus joining a team that offers personal and professional fulfillment.

Neglecting to Pay Attention to Detail

The technical aspects of a cover letter matter, and applicants who do not pay attention to detail could miss out on prime opportunities during their job search. Pay close attention to your formatting when compiling your application materials and resume, and make sure your headings or salutations are consistent. Break your paragraphs frequently to allow the employer to pause when absorbing the information you presented. Primarily, proofread carefully to eliminate any spelling, punctuation or grammar errors that could indicate you approach your work carelessly.

Present yourself professionally while adding a touch of personality when detailing your soft and hard skills in a cover letter. Employers are seeking an individual who can not only communicate his qualifications, but also detail personality attributes that are a good fit for the team and the company as a whole.

Photo Courtesy of Roger Bakker at Flickr.com


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  • Judy Chaney
    Judy Chaney

    Please give me a suggestion on a cover letter for someone getting back into the working world after being a housewife for 3 years

  • Michael C.
    Michael C.

    Good to see that I am doing my cover letters correctly. Thank you.

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