Is Your Cover Letter Hurting You?

John Krautzel
Posted by

It may seem like you spend hours on end revising your cover letter and gathering materials for your job search. Still, candidates often wonder why they never hear back from potential employers, even after they follow up on their application materials. It may be your letter has sabotaged your chances of employment. Land the interview by avoiding these costly mistakes.

The Vague Address

A key part of your job search is researching the company and identifying the hiring managers. Use this information when writing your cover letter. Avoid addressing the letter to no one or "to whom it may concern," and instead, find out the name of the individual who you should send your application materials to when applying. This practice alone could reduce the risk of your letter landing in the trash, explains Julia Gaynor with Monster.

The General Template

It may be easier to copy and paste information from one cover letter to the next, but the reality is that potential employers can see a template miles away. Customize the letter for each position and include specific information about the company and the position. Get creative by detailing why you want to work for the company, and use specific examples and language relevant to the industry.

The Resume Rehash

Your resume should accompany your cover letter, meaning that there is no need to rehash the details of your job duties and dates of employment. Your resume details your experience, and the letter should detail who you are as a professional. Avoid providing an overview of your resume; detail skills that are not included on the resume, such as your motivation, dedication and ability to fit in with the company culture.

The Boring Book

A cover letter should be direct, concise and brief. Avoid writing a novel for the potential employer by keeping the letter to just one page. Instead of droning on about how much you want this opportunity, provide specific and direct examples of how your skills and experience match what the company is seeking in a candidate. Use keywords from the job description to show you are the ideal fit for the job.

The Sloppy Product

You may have all of the qualifications desired for the position and possess the skills the employer is seeking, but if your letter is riddled with grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, you have sabotaged your job opportunity. Employers are seeking individuals who pay close attention to detail and produce clean and professional work. Your letter is your first test project. Make sure it is polished and clean.

Writing a cover letter is often challenging. If you pay close attention to details and personalize your application materials so they are geared toward the position, you should have an interview in no time.

Photo Courtesy of Ambro at



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Jill V.
    Jill V.

    As to not going back more than 10 years: I worked in a plant nearly 10 years; my previous job (with which it overlapped )lasted 27 years. So am I supposed to report only one job? I don't think many employers would like that;at least, applications usually want at least 2 or 3. I really don't care for advice that can't be followed or suggestions that are unworkable.

  • lin lin h.
    lin lin h.

    thank u so much

Jobs to Watch