9 Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Common Cover Letter Mistakes

Avoiding common cover letter mistakes can quickly boost your chances and convince the hiring manager that you are the right fit for the position. After all, you’ve only got three paragraphs to tell the employer what makes you the perfect addition to their team. Because of that, you need to prioritize the most critical information and work effectively within the limited space. So, let’s look at how you can avoid common cover letter mistakes and motivate the employer to choose you out of all the candidates.

Common cover letter mistakes and how to fix them

Keep this information about frequent cover letter mistakes in mind when writing your next cover letter. Learning how to avoid them can improve the overall quality of your application and help you highlight your best qualifications.

1. Not analyzing the job description
2. Using the wrong cover letter format
3. Highlighting duties instead of accomplishments
4. Repeating your resume
5. Focusing on yourself too much
6. Sharing irrelevant experience
7. Using the same cover letter template for multiple jobs
8. Including too much information
9. Making spelling or grammar mistakes

1. Not analyzing the job description

In this day and age, there’s no excuse for failing to do your research. So, before you start writing your cover letter, take a moment to read through the job description carefully. While doing this, focus on the top 5 requirements for the role. These may be related to experience, education, skills, or other qualifications. Once you’ve found these perquisites, brainstorm examples of when you’ve used them in your career. Then, summarize your experience with successfully using these top qualifications in one paragraph. This will grab the hiring manager’s attention and show that you aren’t using a generic template.

2. Using the wrong cover letter format

Avoid trying to catch the reader’s attention with intricate design at the expense of readability. Your cover letter can be unique and use a similar design to your resume, but don’t get too artistic with it. By using an easy-to-read font, you will ensure that the content of your cover letter will stand out. And to improve the readability, remember to break up text into shorter, concise paragraphs. Above all, keep your cover letter to one page at most, and leave space between the paragraphs.

3. Highlighting duties instead of accomplishments

Leave the list of job duties in your resume. In your cover letter, focus more on your professional accomplishments and times when you have exceeded the goals. For example, highlight any awards or recognition you have earned throughout your career. If you don’t know which ones to include, choose the ones that are most impressive and relevant to the position you’re applying to.

4. Repeating your resume

There’s no need to write out the content of your resume in your cover letter. In fact, it can quickly put the hiring manager off if you reiterate what they’ve already read in your resume. Your cover letter should expand on the information that is in your resume. For example, discuss specific accomplishments you achieved in your past jobs using the skills that you mention on your resume.

5. Focusing on yourself too much

Remember that your cover letter is essentially your sales pitch. In it, you should address the employer’s needs and how you could fulfill them. So, stay away from describing your wishes and wants in length. Instead, ask yourself what you can offer to the company. What challenges are they facing right now? What pain points can you help them solve? By looking at the position from the employer’s point of view, you will better relate your skills and qualifications to their needs.

6. Sharing irrelevant experience

You might be in a position where you know that your experience is not relevant to the job. As a result, you may want to explain this in your cover letter. But before you do so and alert the hiring manager to this fact, pause. Instead of explaining why your experience is irrelevant, focus on how it prepared you for the job at hand. Discuss transferable skills and knowledge you gained during your career and how you would apply them in your new position to become a valuable employee.

7. Using the same cover letter template for multiple jobs

While the formatting of your cover letter can stay the same, the contents should always be unique and tailored to the position. A good cover letter addresses the specific requirements of the role and company you’re applying to. Thus, you should always edit or rewrite your cover letter before applying for a new job. Some of the key things to focus on include the hiring manager’s name and the exact title of the position you’re applying to. Of course, you should also highlight the most relevant skills, qualifications, and values that align with what the company is seeking.

8. Including too much information

Before you send your cover letter, ask yourself whether the information in it is relevant to the job. For example, you might want to explain why you are changing careers or relocating. On the other hand, the employer doesn’t need to know the personal details. Those are unlikely to add to your qualifications and could even seem like a red flag. So, only include the information that enhances your application and highlights the positives.

9. Making spelling or grammar mistakes

Even a tiny cover letter mistake can land you in the ‘no’ pile in today’s competitive job market. So, never skip over proofreading your cover letter multiple times. First, use spell-check in your word editing program. Then, go over the cover letter again and read through it carefully to catch any mistakes that might have slipped past. You can also try reading it out loud or from the bottom to the top to detect errors. Or ask a friend, colleague, or family member to proofread it for you and get their feedback on the overall tone of the cover letter as well.

How to avoid cover letter mistakes

Before sending out your cover letter, make sure it’s as impressive and effective as it can be. Here’s how:

  • Read and edit your cover letter – It’s easy to skip past mistakes when focusing on the content you’re writing. Before submitting your cover letter, read through it multiple times from the bottom up. This will break up the text flow and help you focus on typos, syntax, and grammatical errors.
  • Get help from a friend – Unlike you, a friend or family member will look at your cover letter with a fresh set of eyes. This might help them catch errors that you missed in your writing. Apart from that, they will tell you whether the text sends the right message and if it’s easy to read and navigate.

The cover letter is one of your first chances to make a good impression on the hiring manager. By avoiding these common cover letter mistakes, you can demonstrate what makes you the perfect candidate and impress your future employer with your professionalism and achievements. So, before you send out your next cover letter, take a minute to look over this list. Once you’re sure that none of these cover letter mistakes appear in your cover letter, you’re good to go and apply!


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