Red Flags Are Raised With These Cover Letter Mistakes

Nancy Anderson
Posted by

Busy hiring managers are unlikely to give your application materials a second look if your cover letter isn't well done. Sometimes just a few extra moments of proofreading are all it takes to ensure your cover letter doesn't head straight to the discard pile. Avoid raising red flags by keeping an eye out for these common cover letter mistakes.

Grammatical Errors

Your cover letter is the first thing a hiring manager sees. Take extra steps to eliminate grammar mistakes and misspellings so that you make a great first impression. Don't rely on spell checkers and online grammar tools alone. If at all possible, have another person take a look at your document to ferret out any homonyms or other errors that might have slipped through your digital defenses.

Not Following Directions

Read job postings well, and be sure to incorporate any requested information into your cover letter. For example, if the posting asks for info about which accounting software you have used, give details on those programs and your familiarity with them. Don't avoid the topic because you think your experience is too minimal. Hiring managers may be willing to work with someone who needs training, but they are unlikely to look further at someone who didn't seem to read the job posting materials.


Although it is important to know yourself and express your strengths clearly in your cover letter, it is equally as important to avoid sounding overconfident. Don't brag about the things you are bringing to the position or how you can fix the company. Instead, simply state your qualifications and past successes, and let that information speak for itself.

A Negative Focus

To improve your chances of getting a job, avoid any negativity in your cover letter. Don't waste space detailing those areas where your experience is minimal. Instead, focus on your actual work history and how it has given you a background that will lead to your success in the position to which you are applying.


Whether it is printed out on high-quality paper or sent in an email, a cover letter needs to maintain a professional tone. Avoid jokes, tired clich├ęs and slang. It is acceptable to let your personality show through, but you need to remember that you are talking to your potential future boss. Keep stories closely related to your work qualifications, and show respect for your audience.

Crafting a quality cover letter is an important first step towards getting a job. Have someone proofread your letter for spelling, grammar and tone. Follow the directions given in the job posting, and avoid negativity and an unprofessional attitude. A great cover letter is the best way to quickly catch the attention of the hiring manager to help move you along to the interview stage.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at


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

Jobs to Watch