7 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve worked on your resume until it’s perfected and now you’re ready to send it out. All that’s needed to complete the task is to write a cover letter.

You understand that while the cover letter is not quite as important as the resume, you know that it’s the first thing the hiring manager will see and you want to make it as flawless as possible. You’ve done your research and you know what to put in your letter.

But do you know what NOT to put on it?

Here are seven common cover letter mistakes to avoid making…


1) Don’t send out the same letter to each of the positions you apply to. If you don’t bother to personalize it, the hiring manager will most likely be able to spot it as a generic form letter that you’ve created and will wonder about your passion for working for that particular company.

2) Don’t say anywhere on your letter something to the effect of “I’m sure there are lots of more qualified people than me applying for this job, but….” If you don’t think you are the right person for the job, why should he?

3) Don’t use fancy words and phrases to try to make an impression. Remember when Geoffrey Rush’s character said to Keira Knightly’s (in the Pirates of the Caribbean), “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to your request. Means no.” Well, you don’t want to sound like Barbossa on a cover letter. If you mean no, just say so.

4) Don’t put in too many “I’s”, as in I want, I need, I am hoping for, I’d like….  The company is trying to fill the position with the best candidate possible. It might be you, so don’t make them think it’s ALL about you.

Avoid using verbs such as is, was, has, had.  Replace them with powerful verbs such as administrated, formulated, facilitated, devised, or summarized. Strong words evoke competent images in the minds of hiring managers.

6) Check, double check and then check again for any misspellings or typos. A single typo can put you out of the running for a job. Why? Because if you can’t use spell check on a computer, how can the hiring manager feel confident you can be trained for your new position?

7) Don’t ramble on. Cover letters should be no more than four paragraphs long. All you want to do with the cover letter is to entice the hiring manager enough so that he or she will want to read your resume. If it’s too long, you’ll bore them before they even get to your resume and both your cover letter and resume will probably end up in the discard pile.

Now that you know what not to do, look over your cover letter one more time and see if any of these common mistakes are on yours. If yes, take the time to fix it. It’s more important to get it done right, than to get it done fast.