12 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid
Make a good first impression that gets you in the door, and avoid these mistakes at all costs.
1. Comparisons and clichés: Avoid overused clichés because such expressions distract from your letter’s purpose. You want to showcase your most impressive skills and accomplishments.
2. Unrelated or unrealistic career goals: Tailor your cover letter to the specific position for which you are applying. Hiring managers are only interested in what you can do for the company, not what you hope to accomplish for yourself. Your letter should convey a genuine interest in the position and how you will fulfill your duties. Example: “I am very interested in this executive assistant position, and I am confident in my ability to make a long-term contribution to your staff.”
3. General form letters: This is mass mailing in which you send a general form letter to a large number of employers. This is not recommended because this approach does not allow you to personalize each application. Every cover letter you write should be tailored to the position you are seeking and demonstrate both your commitment to a specific industry and particular employer. Mass mailings might indicate to a hiring manager that you are not truly interested in joining his or her organization.
4. Wasting space: Cover letters are generally just a few paragraphs long, and every word of every sentence should be directly related to your purpose for writing. In other words, if you are applying for a position as an engineer, include only the skills and experience that apply to that field. Any other irrelevant information weakens your application.
5. Incorrect or erroneous company information: Verify the accuracy of any company information that you mention in your cover letter. If you haven’t researched the company, don’t exaggerate. Saying something like: “I know about your company” or “I am familiar with your products” signal to an employer that you haven’t done your homework. Be specific when citing information about a company such as product or service offerings, locations, news and events, etc.
6. Personal photos: This is the no-no you most want to avoid. Adding a photo to your cover letter or even resume is a sure way of eliminating you from consideration for the position advertised. One of the reasons is you might remind the interviewer of someone he or she does not like, or had a bad experience with. You don’t want to eliminate yourself right off the bat without being given a chance.
7. Mentioning shortcomings: This is a big mistake because you’re emphasizing your flaws rather than your strengths. For example, avoid statements like, “Although I don’t have related experience, I remain very interested in the store manager position,” or “I’m not qualified for this position, but I always wanted to work in the dry cleaning field.” Instead, emphasize your strengths, including valuable skills, related experience, and company knowledge.
8. “Amusing” anecdotes: If you want serious consideration from a prospective employer, your cover letter should present a serious, professional tone. Let’s imagine you’re in an interview setting. Since you do not know your interviewer, you would not joke with him or her until you have determined what demeanor is appropriate. Likewise, when writing to a potential employer you never met, you should remain professional.
9. Misrepresentation: At any point of a job search, NEVER ever misrepresent yourself. Erroneous claims in a cover letter or resume could be grounds for dismissal as soon as the inaccuracy is discovered. Stick to the facts. You are selling your skills and accomplishments in your cover letter. If you achieve something, say so, and put it in the best possible light. Don’t hold back or be modest.
10. Personal information: Do not include your age, weight, height, marital status, race, religion, or any other personal information unless you feel that it directly pertains to the position that you’re seeking. If you are applying for an athletic sports team, height and weight may be important to include. Similarly, you should list your personal interests and hobbies only if they are directly relevant to the type of job you are seeking.
11. Demanding statements: Your cover letter should demonstrate what you can do for an employer, not what he or she can do for you. Instead of saying, “I am looking for an opportunity in which I will be adequately challenged and compensated,” say, “I am confident that I could make a significant contribution to your organization, specifically by expanding your customer base in the Midwest region and implementing incentive programs for new accounts.”
12. Typographical Errors and Signature: It is very easy to make mistakes in your letters, especially when you are writing many in succession. But it is also very easy for a hiring manager to reject any cover letter that contains errors, even those that seem minor at first glance. Here are a few common mistakes to watch out for when proofreading your letter. Provide pertinent information in your cover letter. If you forget to communicate something to your addressee, you can easily retype the letter in Microsoft Word, Including a supplementary note, either typed or handwritten, will be viewed as unprofessional or, worse yet, lazy