10 Worst Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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10 Worst Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

common cover letter mistakes

A cover letter is a formal letter that is sent to an employer along with a resume when applying for a job. The cover letter introduces the applicant to the employer and highlights the key qualifications that make the applicant a good fit for the position.

While cover letters are not required for every job application, they can be very helpful in making a good first impression on an employer.

Unfortunately, cover letters are often overlooked or treated as an afterthought by job seekers. As a result, many cover letters are filled with common mistakes that can hurt an applicant’s chances of getting the job.

Keep reading to find out what are the most common cover letter mistakes and how to avoid them!

Cover Letters: A Things of the Past or Not?

Aren’t cover letters a thing of the past? Well, yes and no.

According to Jobvite, 74% of recruiters don’t find the cover letter to be an important factor when evaluating candidates. But, that means 26% of recruiters do! And, your next employer might belong to this category.

More importantly, 53% of employers admit they prefer candidates to send a cover letter when applying for a job (even when it’s not required).

Keep in mind that, in order to impress your potential employer, you can’t write one generic cover letter and keep sending it for every job position you apply for. Writing cover letters requires some time and effort. To make the process easier, we bring you 10 most common (and costly) mistakes you should avoid.

10 Worst Cover Letter Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Addressing the cover letter to the wrong person

When applying for a job, make sure you know the name of the person responsible for reviewing job applications and addressing your cover letter to them.

If you can’t find the name of the hiring manager, you can use a generic title such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter.”

2. Too casual or too formal greetings

Besides addressing the right person, you need to make sure your greeting is neither too formal or too casual.

Seer clear of too formal greetings, such as “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Mrs. Smith.” These are often considered off-putting, and so is the super casual opener “Hi!”

The best way to greet the recipient of your cover letter is by using their first name, such as “Dear Jane.” Or, as mentioned above a gender-neutral opener such as “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruiter” is always a safe choice.

3. Not providing enough (or any) context

Your cover letter should provide context for your resume. It should  explain why you are interested in the position and why you would be a good fit for it.

Many job seekers make the mistake of simply repeating what is already on their resume. This is not only redundant, but it also shows that you lack creativity and don’t know how to sell yourself.

4. Talking about yourself only

Yes, your cover letter should provide context for your resume. But, it shouldn’t be about you only.

Your cover letter is your sales pitch to the company. So, instead of talking about yourself only, make sure to mention the needs of your potential employee.

Read the job description in detail and consider each point and requirement carefully. Then, explain how exactly can you contribute to the company.

5. Writing a generic cover letter

Do you use one and the same cover letter for every job you apply to? If so, you need to stop doing that right away!

Customized cover letters will stand out in the sea of generic ones and increase your chances of getting an interview invite. The best part is, you don’t need to spend too much time when customizing a cover letter.

All you have to do is to make a list of the top requirements for the role, based on the job description. Then, brainstorm which skills or experiences make you qualified for those requirements. You can summarize this information in a paragraph or use bullet points.

6. Making it too long

Did you know that the average cover letter is only around 150-200 words long?

And there’s a good reason for that – recruiters and hiring managers simply don’t have time to read through lengthy cover letters. So, make sure your cover letter is doesn’t exceed one page.

Also keep the readability in mind. Format your cover letter properly and add spacing to avoid dense blocks of text.

7. Failing to proofread

Before you hit the “send” button, make sure to proofread your cover letter several times. Ideally, ask a friend or family member to read it for you as well.

Typos and grammar mistakes are one of the most common cover letter mistakes out there. They show lack of attention to detail and can be a major turn-off for recruiters.

8. Including too much information

A cover letter is a great way to explain everything you can’t in your resume. For example, a cover letter can be very useful for explaining an employment gap or your desire to move to another city.

But, don’t go into specifics. Hiring managers and recruiters don’t need to know all the details of your knee surgery or how you had your heart broken and need to move to another city.

9. Not sending a cover letter at all

In some cases, employers may not require a cover letter. But that doesn’t mean you should skip on it altogether.

If there is no mention of a cover letter in the job listing, you can still include one with your application. This will show that you’re truly interested in the  position and willing to go the extra mile.

10. Sending a cover letter in the wrong format

When sending your cover letter via email, make sure to use a professional subject line. For example, “Application for the position of Marketing Manager.”

Then, attach your cover letter and resume to the email in PDF format and send it off.

If you’re applying for a job online, you can usually upload your cover letter and resume directly on the website. Follow the instructions of the job listing carefully to avoid any issues.

And, if you’re unsure about your interview skills or you just can’t seem to find the right job – don’t hesitate to contact us!

How Can Popcorn Recruiters Help You? 🍿

Popcorn Recruiters is a recruitment agency with a significant difference: we’re border-less. Located in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, we are in touch with ambitious and talented professionals across Europe. With a deep pool of IT and foreign-language speaking talent, our Popcorn Recruiters are leading the way to successful matches.

As a recruitment agency, our goal is not only to meet the needs and demands of our clients. We also look out for our candidates and make sure they find their ideal employer.

Once you apply to one of our open positions and join our talent network, we become your representatives – something like your personal agents.

First, we’ll have a chat (that is a brief prescreen interview) to get to know you better – your needs, skills, interests, and requirements. Then, we’ll match you with a company we know you’ll fit in with perfectly, help you prepare for the interviews, and help you land that job!

Sounds good? Drop your CV and we’ll get in touch!