10 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

Most jobs these days require a cover letter in addition to your resume. Even if the job description doesn’t indicate it, it never hurts to go above and beyond by submitting a cover letter. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of some common mistakes that have probably caused them to miss out on some amazing opportunities. If you want to impress your recruiter and secure an interview, avoid these ten common mistakes when writing your next cover letter.


Making it all about you

You’re writing a letter to prove why a company should hire you. You would think the whole letter should be about you, right? Wrong. No one wants to read a letter where every sentence starts with “I…”. Frame your cover letter in a way that speaks to how you can contribute to the company. So, while you are still talking about yourself, you are also focusing on what you can offer.


Rehashing your resume

It’s safe to assume the hiring manager has already read your resume. If you have a specific accomplishment from your resume that you want to expand on, go ahead! If the recruiter reads your resume and then reads the same information in your cover letter, you just wasted their time, and your application will be going in the discard pile. You have two pages between your resume and cover letter to show your worth, so use them wisely.


Unnecessary flattery

You are applying for a job position, not the president of a fan club. You can write one or two points about what you admire about the company, but anything more than that is unnecessary and meaningless flattery. Rather than trying to butter them up, let your accomplishments flatter you.



While this should go without saying, watch out for typos and grammatical mistakes. Double-check, triple-check, even quadruple-check your cover letter. Typos are an easy fix, and any presence of them shows carelessness. Ask a friend to give a once over or utilize the many free online grammar checkers. Make sure any names, such as the hiring manager’s or company name, are spelled and stylized correctly. Don’t let silly mistakes cost you a job!


Its cliché to use a cliché

Avoid using cliches such as “team player” or “master problem-solver.” Without any evidence to back it up, these phrases are empty words and won’t mean much to the recruiter. Anyone can claim they’re something they’re not. Give concrete examples that will demonstrate these traits rather than just stating them.


More than one page

Just like your cover letter, I’ll keep this brief. Your cover letter isn’t your university dissertation. Keep it short and sweet, and write one page minimum. Recruiters go through hundreds of cover letters; they don’t have time to read a novel. Be concise and get to the point.


Rigid format

Remember those hamburger essays you did back in high school? Yeah, now forget it. Format your letter based on what you write, don’t write based on a format. Throwing it back to your Grade 9 English class, each paragraph should be a new idea. Some ideas might need ten sentences, and some might only need two, and that’s okay!


Discussing irrelevant work experience

Like your resume, customize your cover letter to the position you are applying for. Don’t include your entire work history in your letter. The recruiter doesn’t need to read about your time as a camp counsellor if you’re applying for a cybersecurity analyst. Pick one or two positions at the most and write on specific achievements during your time in those roles.



Stay professional and avoid delving into any personal details about your job hunt or past positions. Everyone needs to vent about their problems, but your cover letter isn’t the place to do it. If you quit or were laid off from a position, there’s no need to address it in the letter. Be present and give current information. Your potential boss is concerned with only one thing: what makes you the best fit for the job.


Including salary expectations

Unless stated in the job description, there is no need to talk salary expectations. Remember, you’re still in the application stage. Your goal right now is to land an interview. When you get an interview, and the topic of compensation arises, feel free to bring it up, but absolutely not in your cover letter. Focus in on your accomplishments and prove your worth and the money will follow.


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