Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Know Before Applying

You’ve probably heard the rumor going around that you don’t need a cover letter anymore. But while these controversial headlines are catchy, they’re not being totally honest with you.

Having an outstanding cover letter could be your ticket to a job interview – and having cover letter mistakes (or no cover letter at all) could result in your resume getting trashed.

The truth is that there’s no way to predict how much a hiring manager will care about your cover letter. They could ignore it entirely or analyze every word you write.

You’re playing a dangerous game if you skip out on creating a standout cover letter. Don’t gamble with the risk!

Just create a good cover letter so you’ll be confident in your job application.

So, how do you create a cover letter that you can be proud of?

First, start with the online cover letter builder.

Second, check out the free online resume samples here, here, and here.

Third, read these crucial cover letter tips and tricks in the Careers Center, including the following five common cover letter mistakes you’re probably making right now.

Cover Letter Mistake #1: Sounding Boring – Or Worse, Bored


Your cover letter probably isn’t the right place to talk about last year’s wild Spring Break bender. However, your cover letter still needs to be interesting enough to keep the hiring manager from getting bored silly.

One of the biggest mistakes you could make with your cover letter is being so boring – or sounding so bored – that the hiring manager stops reading why they should hire you. And if they stop reading, what’s the point of writing it?

A boring cover letter defeats the purpose of writing a cover letter at all.

Do your best to gauge the level of creativity that the hiring manager would appreciate at the company you’re applying for. You can tell a lot about how traditional they would want cover letters to be by the way they represent themselves on their websites.

Check out their About Us pages for clues, such as looking at the words and photos they choose. Ask yourself these questions to help determine how you should add interest to your cover letter:

  • Do they have pictures of employees having fun or are they hard at work?
  • Do they use slang or professional jargon?
  • Do they use formal words or contractions like “aren’t” and “can’t”?

For example, if they’re strictly professional and corporate, such as an established accounting firm, concentrate on adding interesting statistics and quantitative examples of how you’ve excelled at your previous jobs or in school.

On the other hand, if they’re a cutting-edge fashion magazine or hyper-hip marketing firm, you can be a little more creative in how you spice up your cover letter. Try a clever opening line or tell an interesting anecdote about why you’re a fantastic candidate.

Cover Letter Mistake #2: Recycling Your Resume


Your cover letter is the place where you can share why you’re a great candidate. It isn’t where you recycle your resume. Rehashing everything you already listed in your resume summary, qualifications, education, job history, and interests isn’t just unnecessary – it’s boring.

While it’s important that your cover letter, resume, and summary are all tailored for the job you’re applying for, they don’t have to say the same thing over and over again.

Resumes are supposed to be short and concise. There were probably a lot of skills and experiences that you could wished you could have fit in it, but there just wasn’t enough room.

Cover letters are the best place for you to share the qualifications that were interesting, but just didn’t make the cut into your resume.

Remember, the hiring manager is perfectly capable of reading your resume. You don’t need to rewrite it out again in your cover letter!

Cover Letter Mistake #3: Not Personalizing the Cover Letter Template


Addressing your cover letter to “Whom It May Concern” or worse, “Sir or Ma’am,” is an instant tip-off to the hiring manager that you didn’t care enough to check what their name was.

Little things like checking the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile or calling the company to ask go a long way. It’s totally worth it to do a little digging to find out the name of the hiring manager.

Check out this article for more details on how to personalize your cover letter template here.

Cover Letter Mistake #4: Avoiding Employers’ Most Important Question


The basic question that every hiring manager is asking when they read your cover letter is, “Why should I hire you?”

Your cover letter should answer their question indirectly (or even directly, if you think that the hiring manager would find it appropriate) by telling them why you’re the best candidate for the job.

Share stories, facts, evidence, and qualifications that make you stand out as a candidate. However, it’s crucial that you tell the truth. Never lie on your cover letter or resume.

Cover Letter Mistake #5: Your Cover Letter is Too Long


Hiring managers expect cover letters to be between half to one page long. They probably won’t read anything longer than one page, unless you’re applying for a very senior position at a company. Stick to one page or less!

Learn More

Check out The Ultimate Guide to Cover Letters by for access to the online cover letter builder, cover letter examples, and more essential articles on cover letters today!

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