Common Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Chances

Nancy Anderson
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A cover letter is one of the most powerful documents you'll ever write. It can either persuade a hiring manager to give you additional consideration for a job, or it can hurt your chances of ever getting an interview with a particular company. To improve your chances of landing a job you love, avoid these common cover letter mistakes during your job search.

Don't make the mistake of writing too much in your cover letter, or you risk overwhelming the hiring manager with information. In most cases, a cover letter should not exceed one page, including the address block at the top and your signature at the bottom. Use bullet points to make it easier for the hiring manager to find the most important information in your letter.

Grammatical errors and typos reflect poorly on your abilities, especially if you are applying for jobs that demand a high level of attention to detail. Before sending your cover letter to a hiring manager, proofread it several times. For best results, have another person review it to ensure you didn't miss any errors.

Do not send the same cover letter to every potential employer. Instead, customize each letter to a particular employer or industry. Customizing your letter allows you to highlight the skills and experience that make you a good fit for an opening. If you don't customize your cover letters, you won't have as much of an opportunity to demonstrate your suitability as an applicant.

You need to come across as just the right combination of humble and confident, but many job seekers lean too far in one direction. If you're too humble in your cover letter, you won't be able to persuade the hiring manager you have what it takes to do the job. Your letter should focus on the skills and qualities you possess, not the ones you lack. If you are too confident, the hiring manager might wonder if it would be difficult to work with you. It's okay to highlight your achievements, but do so in a way that does not make you look cocky.

One of the worst cover letter mistakes you can make is lying to the hiring manager. Fibbing about your skills or experience might get you an interview, but the interviewer is likely to realize you embellished the truth when you can't talk intelligently about certain topics. If you're able to fool the interviewer, you probably won't be able to fool your new colleagues. Potential employers almost always find out when someone lies, so don't even think about fibbing in your cover letter.

If you take the time to write an excellent cover letter, you'll start to notice more interview offers coming your way. Improve your current cover letter by proofreading it carefully, customizing it for each potential employer and making sure it does not exceed one page in length.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at



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  • Teresa T.
    Teresa T.


  • Teresa T.
    Teresa T.

    Excellent information!

  • Sandra J.
    Sandra J.

    Thanks, & I do have a cover letter.

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