Building a Winning Cover Letter: Common Mistakes to Avoid (Part 2)



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

Missing personal authenticity
Listing your accomplishments
Listing your skills
“Impressive” language
Listing and including references

You might have already familiarized yourself with the five mistakes which we described in the our first article. This time we continue guiding you through the world of application documents and share additional five mistakes dreaded by recruiters.

Missing personal authenticity

cover letter be yourself

In general, a good cover letter aims to showcase your experiences and skills, but also your personality. Writing a dry and overly formal one doesn’t give the feel of you as a person. Commonly used expressions will not make you look authentic and personal, and this is what recruiters look for. If you have a sense of humor, don’t be afraid to include it. Are you good at telling stories? Don’t be shy to tell one. At the end of the day the company is hiring you for who you are and what you bring. Staying true to yourself will benefit you both!

Listing your accomplishments

It’s quite frequent that candidates list their accomplishments and achievements in their cover letter, often misunderstanding how to write a cover letter effectively. They believe that presenting their accomplishments will prove they are the right fit for the job. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Your resume is the appropriate place to list your achievements, while your cover letter should focus on how these accomplishments make you a good fit for the specific role.

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The cover letter is where you explain how you got there and how did your unique skills and abilities help you earn the achievements listed in your resume.

Listing your skills

cover letter sample template and format

Just like listing achievements, a lot of candidates also list their skills and abilities in their samples. As described in our first article on the most common mistakes, a good cover letter is used as a document complementary to your resume. What that means, is that your resume is the place where you list your skills, your attributes, and capabilities. A good cover letter is filled to explain how and in what context you were able to use those skills, in order to achieve something. Remember to cover critical skills in your cover letter, while your resume should contain your full skillset.

‘Impressive’ language

Many of us believe that using sophisticated and complicated language makes us look professional and impressive. Don’t try it with your cover letter though. Branding yourself is all about communicating your strengths in a natural, clear, and fun way.

A recent article posted by resume.io is showing that many job seekers might not fully realize the potential of cover letters in personal branding and career advancement.

Unless this is your natural way of communication, avoid overly complex expressions or unnecessary adjectives. Instead of sounding impressive, you might end up sounding superficial and being misunderstood. 😊

Listing and including references

Collecting references from past employers is a common practice in many organizations, and it’s particularly relevant when you are looking to build a student cover letter. As a student, these references can greatly enhance your application by providing credibility to your academic and part-time work experiences.

For example, a recruiter can orally verify references at the end of the recruitment process or applicants can attach them as written documents to their application. A written reference letter is not equivalent to a cover letter, and you should not confuse it with one. References describe past performance but don’t specify your potential contribution to the new role and company.

As last piece of advice, avoid sending your cover letters immediately after writing them. Take a break and review your final version with clear mind. 99% of the time you will end up modifying the final documents and making them much appealing.

Good luck!

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