Are You Making These Mistakes in Your Cover Letter?

Nancy Anderson
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Your cover letter is an extremely important piece of your applicant profile, as it introduces you to the hiring manager and helps persuade him to call you for a job interview. A cover letter that features common mistakes can cost you a lot in terms of missed opportunities, so make sure you're not guilty of the following cover letter blunders.

It's All About You

Although your cover letter is written and signed by you, it's really not supposed to be all about you. The whole purpose of the letter is to convince the company to interview and hire you. How do you accomplish this? By focusing your letter on the company's needs, goals and vision. Keep your language from sounding too self-centered by avoiding "I" statements. Instead, describe how your skills and abilities benefit the employer and make you a great candidate for the specific position to which you're applying.

Reiterating Your Resume

Your cover letter is not just your resume in paragraph form. Its purpose is to introduce you to the hiring manager with a short professional summary, then proceed to emphasize your greatest strengths in relation to the company's needs. If the hiring manager reads your cover letter and wants to know more, your resume is right there, so don't make the mistake of being redundant.

Making Generic Claims

It is not recommended to make a bunch of vague claims to make your cover letter more impressive. Anyone can say they're a "good communicator" or "excellent team player." Can you prove it? For every claim you put down on paper, provide backup data, such as dollar figures or other statistics.

Spelling or Grammar Errors

Making spelling or grammar mistakes within your cover letter may seem like a rookie mistake, but it's more common that you think. Many candidates rely on spell check to edit their documents, which simply isn't enough. Spell check won't catch some things, like misused words, grammatically strange sentences and typos. It's best to read and reread your cover letter out loud to check for word flow. Then, have a friend to read it over and check for any errors you might have missed.

Too Long

Putting too much information into your cover letter is a surefire way to bore or annoy the hiring manager. You don't want to run the risk of your letter not even being read, so keep it concise. You should be able to introduce yourself, provide a quick professional summary, and address a few of the company's key needs within three to four paragraphs.

It takes time and effort to put together an effective and persuasive cover letter, so don't let your efforts go to waste by making any of these common mistakes. Keep your cover letter concise and error-free, validate every claim with quantifiable data and focus on the company's needs without rehashing your resume. Doing so increases your likelihood of getting called for a job interview.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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