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The purpose of a cover letter is to show employers how well you express yourself and to complement your resume. However, just like mistakes on your resume, mistakes on your cover letter can lead your job application into the circular filing cabinet a.k.a. the trash can.

Make sure your cover letter is free of these 8 mistakes.

1. Skipping the Cover Letter!

It may be optional on most job applications, but many employers will skip over your application if there isn’t a cover letter. The cover letter gives you the opportunity to express yourself and your interest in the company and position more than a resume. Learn more about The Importance of Writing a Cover Letter.

2. Poor Introduction

Start out your cover letter strong. Beginning with “my name is…” is not a strong introduction. Your name is already listed on your resume, the job application, and the sign-off of your cover letter. Instead, start out by introducing yourself through your qualifications that make you a perfect match for the position. For example, “I am a graphic designer with 5+ years of marketing experience with a passion for web design.”

3. Focusing on Yourself

A common mistake is that job seekers write cover letters that focus on their career goals and expectations. Most employers are about making a profit and meeting their bottom-line. They are not interested to know what they can do to fulfill your dreams. Try refocusing your cover letter on how your experiences and qualifications can contribute to the success of the company.

4. Weak Language

Avoid using phrases like “I feel” or “I believe.” This is very passive language that immediately shows the hiring manager that you don’t possess a go-getting attitude, which is valuable in any industry. Leave those phrases out or replace them with something strong, such as “I am confident.”

5. Going Over One Page

While there are exceptions to every rule, make sure your cover letter and resume are one page each. Remember that you are enticing the hiring manger to invite you in for an interview. Your cover letter should be a highlight reel, while you can go into better detail during the interview.

6. Irrelevant Information

Even though the hiring manager is looking to see if you are a cultural fit for their organization, the cover letter is not the place to talk about your passion for camping (unless you are applying for a job with an outdoors retail store.) The best way to demonstrate your cultural fit is by going into detail about your values rather than activities you enjoy.

7. Using the Same Cover Letter

Your cover letter won’t fit every job application. Tailor your cover letter to each company and job description. Most job postings will tell you the exact qualifications that the hiring manager is looking for, so use that information to address how you qualify. We also recommend researching the company to better understand what they do, their values, and their overall company culture.

8. Typos and Grammatical Errors

One of the worst mistakes you can do is sending a cover letter with spelling and grammatical errors. This tells the hiring manager either you have poor writing skills or you just don’t care to proofread. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. PROOFREAD. Take a few minutes to read your cover letter out loud and ask a friend to read it. It may take extra time to complete, but it’s worth it if you land the job.


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