4 Worst Cover Letter Mistakes

Cover Letter Mistakes - Style Nine to Five

Perfecting your cover letter is the key to getting a leg up in such a competitive job market. Old cover letter practices have been phased out, and there might be some details you just haven’t considered fine-tuning. Double-check each cover letter you’re sending out to ensure you’re not making any of the following four mistakes.

1. Uninspired Opening

Just like writing an essay in school, you need to be able to hook your reader in with a strong opening.

This might be a surprise, but your strong opening should actually begin with your greeting. Drop the overly formal “To whom it may concern” and outdated “Dear Sir or Madam”. Avoid being vague – if you can figure out who the hiring manager is through the company website or LinkedIn, address them directly. If you can’t, at least specify the company – “To the hiring manager of Style Nine to Five”.

For your opening paragraph, drop telling the hiring manager that you’re writing to say you’re interested in a position there. They know that already – that’s why they’re reading the letter. Instead, hook them in with a compelling fact or anecdote about yourself. Then consider launching into a past workplace highlight of yours that would be crucial to this particular job.

2. Resume Repetition

The recruiter already has your resume – rehashing it is pointless and won’t reflect well on you. Your resume lays out all of your past experience already, and the purpose of your cover letter is to explain how that experience will translate to this new job.

So, don’t be repetitive! Describe your past positions with new language, bringing up different accomplishments than the ones listed on your resume. Use the job description to tailor your cover letter around what the employer expects of an ideal employee. Instead of repeating all the highlights of your resume, only describe the ones that tie into this new potential job and how they’ll benefit the company.

To break up the information further, it’s also important to share your knowledge about the company and how you’ve been impacted by them. Be as specific so they know you’ve done your research, and tie these points into your past experience, too.

3. Vague Wording

Cover letters should be as specific as possible. You can list off all the skills you want, but there’s no point in doing so if you don’t have tangible evidence to back it all up. When you write a skill into your cover letter, you should describe a time you actually used it in the workplace with results.

For instance, if you’re trying to prove that you’re adept at gaining social media followers, dig up analytics from one of your past jobs so that you have metrics as proof of how your marketing skills lead to growth.

4. Not Proofreading

Reread your cover letter over and over again until it’s perfect! After all, you can’t write “attention to detail” under your skills subheading with even one typo in your letter.

Your letter can benefit from more than just digging for typos, though. While proofreading, you should also consider what words and entire sentences you can cut out. Keep in mind that cover letters should be pretty concise – a maximum of three paragraphs, certainly not over a page. Employers have plenty of letters to look over, so keep it catchy, short, and get right to the point.

In summary, your cover letter should be as specific and dynamic as possible. Look it over a handful of times – or even get a friend to read it over – and ensure that all the fluff is cut out and your workplace highlights jump right off the page. Good luck job hunting!

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Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.

Feature Image: Adobe Stock

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