Six Cover Letter Mistakes

John Krautzel
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One of the key job search mistakes involves crafting a poorly written cover letter. Along with your resume, this crucial element of your application materials has a significant impact on whether or not you get the interview or the job. Before you can impress a potential employer in an interview, put your professionalism and creativity on display in writing by avoiding these common mistakes.

Generic Beginnings

Address your cover letter to a specific individual to ensure it falls into the right hands. A generic salutation such as "Dear Sir" or "To Whom It May Concern" is impersonal and does not show that you have done your research in locating the hiring manager or supervisor for the position.

Rehashing the Resume

Common job search mistakes include providing an overview of your resume in the cover letter. Instead of repeating yourself, use your cover letter to explore the soft skills not found on your resume, such as dedication, motivation and a commitment to success, and point the hiring manager toward key points on your resume.

Multiple Pages

Don't get wordy when trying to appeal to a potential employer. The letter accompanying your resume should be a brief snapshot detailing why you are the best fit for the position. Keep it to one page by constructing an opening paragraph that indicates the position you are seeking and subsequent paragraphs that show how your soft and hard skills match the duties of the position.

Repurposing Letters

Every position you apply for should be personalized. Employers read cover letters on a regular basis and can spot a template or form letter that is generic and obviously used for many positions. Although you can use some of the same descriptions of your skill set for multiple employers, your cover letter should identify specific skills that match the position.

Getting Personal

All your job application materials should show your level of professionalism. Therefore, avoid including personal details that disclose marital or child status, family commitments, or religious beliefs that can be used to discriminate against you during the hiring process.

Neglecting to Proofread

Even just one grammar, spelling or punctuation error can land your job application materials in the trash. Avoid damaging your credibility by proofreading your letter, resume and application several times thoroughly before submitting them to a potential employer. A job applicant who does not take the time to proofread may be perceived as lazy and careless, which are both undesirable traits employers notice.

Show off your best abilities by putting time and effort into constructing a professional and brief snapshot of your skills, traits and professionalism in a cover letter. Your first impression matters, and employers are seeking a candidate who pays attention to detail from the start.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Andrew thanks for your comment. So this means that 30% are read. For most of us that means that we are going to include a cover letter whether it is read or not. Why take a chance that I could have been the perfect candidate for the position if only I had included a cover letter? I know - sounds kind of silly when it's put that way but we hear all of the time about job candidates that were perfect except that they didn't follow directions. So, unless it specifically states to send a resume only, I would recommend that you include a cover letter.

  • Andrew S.
    Andrew S.

    Statistics show that something like 70% of cover letters are never read.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Christina you can find the hiring manager's name in many places. Look up the company on the web or even better yet on LinkedIn. If that fails you can always try calling the company and asking for the hiring manager's name.

  • Christina Paul
    Christina Paul

    Nice! How do you find out the hiring manager's name?

  • Julieanna G.
    Julieanna G.

    Awesome! News to use!


    The advice is necessary, but one needs to know what to do when a job listing does not tell what company that is being applied to.

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