Cover Letter: Tips on what mistakes to avoid when writing one (Part 1)



A professional cover letter is a supplemental part of your job application. It helps the employer to get to know you better and understand how you will contribute to the company’s success. If you’re eager to know more about what mistakes to avoid, follow this 2-part series on the most common errors, dreaded by the recruiters.

Repeating your resume
Not adapting to the specific job
Wrong company and/or wrong position
Cover letter not focused on facts
Typos, incorrect grammar, linguistic errors

Depending on an organization, some employers will require a cover letter, during your job application process. Hence, having a well-structured and informative document ready, will significantly increase your chances for an interview. It can be particularly helpful if your experience or acquired skills do not seem to fit the job at first glance.

Repeating your resume

It’s important to remember that a cover letter is a document which supplements and completes your resume. For example, it doesn’t serve as a written copy of your resume. Your goal is to present and explain how you gained your specific skills and how you will bring value to the company. You can think of it as a space for your personal branding.

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As an example: the role you’re applying for requires the candidate to be a team player. You should list collaborator or team player, as one of your skills for your resume. In your examples, you should present how you learned this skill and/or in what context you were able to use it. This could be a project that you delivered successfully, as part of a team. 😉

Not adapting to the specific job

There’s nothing wrong in drafting a master document which you can use as a template. What’s important to remember, especially if you are building a student version, is that such a master document has to be treated only as a basis for an actual one you will send out.

You can even draft a general structure of your cover letter. Prepare it in an appropriate format, specify the paragraphs and prepare your introductory statement. For example, think of your unique knowledge, expertise and skills that can bring value to a company, instead of focusing on what you gain.

However, when you create the document, make sure you include only those aspects that are valuable for the specific job and company. According to an article posted by yourcoverletter.com, mastering your analytical skills is key to career success. If a job you’re applying for requires analytical skills, focus on describing these, instead of your ability to influence. If project management is one of the main responsibilities in the role, focus on describing a project you successfully delivered, rather than mentioning a report you created.

It’s understandable that you want to present yourself in the best light. However, remember that every recruiter has limited time to review your application. Outlining skills that are critical for the job will bring you one step closer to landing that interview.

Wrong company and/or wrong position

You’re applying to the ABC Company, yet your cover letter sample addresses to the XYZ Company… Even though it seems unbelievable, incorrect job details is a common mistake. It usually happens when you forget to amend it to the specific role you’re applying for and use the last version of the document.

As already mentioned, it’s important to tailor your cover letter to the job you’re applying for. Imagine a recruiter from ABC receiving one addressed to XYZ. If you’re lucky, they will turn a blind eye on it. In most cases, though, a recruiter will consider such mistake unacceptable and reject you from the selection process on the spot (especially if the job requires an eye for detail).

Cover letter not focused on facts

cover letter facts

Since recruiters have limited time to review your application, understanding how to make a cover letter that is both concise and informative is crucial. This ensures you effectively communicate key facts without overwhelming the reader. These should focus on the job critical skills and responsibilities. In general, good ones should take ¾ to 1 page in length maximum. Anything longer than that will make the recruiter lose focus, potentially resulting in missing the most important aspects you want to stress.

Always keep in mind that your goal is to spark interest in the recruiter so that they see and understand the added value you will bring to the job. Adding interests on your resume is commonly met, but when it comes to your cover letter, they should definitely be left out.

Typos or incorrect grammar

Other frequent cover letter mistakes are typos and linguistic errors. Since it represents a full-text document, it needs to flow naturally and be easy to follow. Misspelling words or making errors will make your document look sloppy. It may also discourage the hiring team from reviewing it in detail.

Revise your format, double check your spelling and correct it before you send it out. It’s better to be understood correctly, than making it sound like a puzzle.

Taking to heart our own advice on not writing a novel, we will finish part one of the article. 😊

Stay tuned for the second part where we explain additional five common cover letter mistakes!

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