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Avoid Costly Cover Letter Mistakes

Blog / June 21, 2018

Most employers admit they don’t read cover letters too thoroughly, but they say they do prefer candidates who write them, so it’s important to have one and to have a good one just in case. A good cover letter should inform the reader about you and make them interested in pursuing you further. Here are seven cover letter mistakes that could cost you the job.

Too much about you

Yes, you are an important topic when writing your cover letter, but you should tailor your letter to the specific job you’re applying for. Show them you’re interested in their company and convince them they should hire you!

Too much personal information is a no-no. Don’t bore the reader with your sob story, even if you feel like you have a great reason why you’ve been out of work for seven months. Topics like a firing, illness, or death in the family can be a turnoff and will make the reader feel uncomfortable. Focus on your achievements and what you can do for their company.

Too long

Keep the length to a half page or less. Respect their time—give them relevant facts quickly, there’s no need to tell the tale of your entire career!

Rehashing your resume

Don’t recap the highlights from your resume in your letter—this is a waste of the employer’s time! A cover letter should complement your resume, not repeat it. Focus on proving how your skills are a great match for their company. Offer relevant, specific examples from your previous experiences that show you’re the best candidate.

Too generic

Never use a form letter! The phrase “to whom it might concern” shows you don’t care enough about the job to research the company. Call to find out who is responsible for hiring and address that person. For an extra bonus, mention a fact, recent accomplishment, or statistic about them to convey your genuine interest.

Typos and too unprofessional tone

Always have at least one person proofread your cover letter. Simple mistakes are enough reason to throw out your application, especially if other candidates are sending in immaculate work. Don’t use words that sound like you just learned how to use a thesaurus—your manner of speech will show your intelligence more than the number of syllables you use!

Don’t use folksy jargon that will make you seem unprofessional. And don’t try to be funny—you have to remember that not everyone will understand your sense of humor. Use a formal greeting and signature with appropriate credentials.

Don’t lie

Be honest and don’t embellish the truth. The risk of getting caught and tarnishing your reputation is too great. And remember that you’re in no position to negotiate yet, so don’t make any salary demands that will seem arrogant and offensive to any hiring manager.


For more information on how to prepare for your job search, check out our website at


Blog written by Erin Greenhalgh