7 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid Like the Plague

By Chelsea Babin

In some industries, cover letters are still expected. If you’re applying to technical positions in an industry that prefers cover letters, you need to avoid these 7 common cover letter mistakes like the plague!

1. Grammar or Spelling Errors: The first thing you should check and double check is the grammar and spelling of your cover letter (the same rule applies to your resume). If there are any grammar or spelling errors on your cover letter, it may get immediately tossed aside because you look like you don’t know how to pay attention to details or lack professionalism.

2. Inappropriate Greeting: Some people go overly formal with their cover letter greeting with a “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madam”. Others go overly casual with a “hey” or “hi”. Both sides of the spectrum are a mistake! You need a greeting for your cover letter. The best to use is a personalized one if you know the name of the HR representative or hiring manager reviewing your cover letter. If not, a simple “to whom it may concern” is your best bet.

3. A Giant Wall of Text: No one wants to read through a giant wall of text! If you want to make your cover letter more appealing, keep it concise, informative, and break it up into several smaller paragraphs so it’s easier to read through.

4. Lack of Personalization: If you’re not personalizing your cover letter for each position you’re applying to, you should be. Including specifics about why you want each position and why you’re interested to work for each company will make your cover letter more effective.

5. Making a False Assumption About the Company: While specifics are important in cover letters, you shouldn’t just make something up. If you don’t know for sure, don’t include it in your cover letter. Making a false assumption about the company and including that information in your cover letter could confuse them, making them think you forgot to update your letter from a previous application.

6. Forgetting to Tailor Your Experience to Each Position: If you’re applying to a job in an industry you haven’t worked in recently or if you’re applying to a position that doesn’t overlap exactly with your previous experience, save some space on your cover letter to explain how your experience would help you and be effective in that specific position. Forgetting to tailor your experience to each position is a mistake you don’t want to make!

7. Speaking Badly of Current or Former Employers: Bad mouthing your old position, boss, or company is a bad way to start out. While you may have had ample reasons to leave your last job or have ample motivation to leave your current job, those don’t need to be expressed in your cover letter. Your cover letter should be focused on your excitement for this new opportunity, not your negativity or regrets from your former or current employer.

Cover letters are alive and well in several industries. If you need to write one, make sure you avoid these 7 common cover letter mistakes like the plague.