7 Cover Letter Mistakes

cover letter mistakes

Unless you grew up rich, you need a job to avoid starvation. You've written your resume but completely dismissed the cover letter.

That's bad.

You need a cover letter. Especially if the job posting requires one (duh). If the job posting doesn't specify if you need it or not, write it. It'll make you stand out in the pool of applicants that were too lazy to submit one.

While you're writing it though, here are 7 mistakes to avoid.

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1. You're not personal

You started your letter with, "To Whom This May Concern". 

That's super basic. It's also cold and boring.

The name of the hiring manager should be in the job posting. It not, it can be found on LinkedIn or Google. Use that name. "Dear Bob Jones,"

As a last resort, you can address it to the "Hiring Manager." But that's an absolute last resort.

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2. You're too generic

Dear Bob Jones,

Attached is my resume.

How much does that stand out? Does it make you want to read their resume? Especially if that's the 12th time you've read the same statement in the past hour? No.

Start it with how you're excited to be applying for the company, a good past performance or anything of that sort.

“She’s never missed a day of class and is uniquely clever.” - Professor X, ABC College.  I know that at XYZ Engineering, innovations happen daily. You need dependable employees that are ready to create day in and day out….

Then go from there.

Or just:

 “I’m grateful for the opportunity to apply to XYZ Engineering. I’m confident that my skill set would fit the company perfectly because...”

Either is a good start.

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3. It's all about the money

The first thing you bring up is salary. Wrong.

You shouldn't even mention salary. That can be discussed in the interview.

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4. You lie

What good would it do you to lie your way into a position? What happens when you lie about a skill set you have and then you can't perform?

Guess who's getting fired? You. 

Not good. Don't lie.

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5. You attach a headshot

You could be the most attractive person in the world. Good for you. Don't attach a headshot.

You know when they're going to see you? In the interview. Also, every day when you get hired for the job.

The cover letter is a way to show off your communication skills and how well you would fit the company. It's not a beauty pageant. 

Leave the picture out of it.

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6. You're negative

Be happy! Be positive! I know this article is all about stuff to not do but still. Your cover letter shouldn't have a negative thing on it.

Don't say you hated your last job. Don't complain. Don't undersell yourself. 

Be confident and happy. It'll make the whole message of the letter come off a lot better.

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7. You bring up your degree

This one isn't too awful but still, don't do it. 

Your resume will have your degree on it. Your cover letter should only be a page so there's no point in wasting precious space on your degree.

That's it, Thanks for reading!

Those are the 7 mistakes on your cover letter that can be costing you a job.

For a guide on how to write a resume, cover letter and much more, check out my ebook: Oh Shit! - The Post Grad's Guide to the Real World.