10 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid

Tips for Job Seekers

One of the most daunting parts of an initial job application is writing a cover letter. If you’re looking to write a perfect cover letter that will get you the job, there are a few mistakes you want to avoid. We see thousands of cover letters as professional recruiters, and we want to help you avoid mistakes and come out as a clear candidate for your dream job! Here are 10 cover letter mistakes to avoid. 

  1. Not customizing each cover letter
  2. Using the wrong tone
  3. Not talking about the company/position
  4. Duplicating your resume
  5. Not proofreading 
  6. Making your cover letter too long
  7. Not following instructions
  8. Forgetting to optimize for keywords
  9. Adding demands or salary expectations
  10. Not concluding with a call to action

1. Not Customizing Each Cover Letter

When writing a cover letter, consider it the first impression you’ll be making on a prospective employer. Sending in generic, templated cover letters will make it seem like you don’t really care about the specific company or role and instead are simply sending out resumes to anyone who will accept them. When you’re writing a cover letter be sure to customize each one to fit the requirements of the job you’re applying for as well as ensure you’re showcasing you care about the specific job. There are definitely templated aspects you can include in your cover letter, but the majority of your letter should be customized to the job you’re applying for.

2. Using the Wrong Tone

Using the wrong tone in a cover letter can turn hiring managers off. A cover letter is an introduction, so you want to ensure that you’re highlighting your personality and don’t sound robotic while also appearing professional. When writing cover letters it’s important to find a balance between personable and professional. 

3. Not Talking About the Company/Position

A big mistake candidates make is only talking about themselves while writing a cover letter. You should ensure that your cover letter showcases the value you would bring to the company, why you would excel in the position, as well as why you are interested in the job.

4. Duplicating Your Resume

A cover letter is meant to supplement your resume, not regurgitate it. A common mistake people make while writing their cover letters is to simply repeat their experience that’s written in their resume rather than expand on the information. When writing a cover letter be sure to avoid redundancy and instead talk about things that you wouldn’t add to a resume – for example, your personal interests and how you hope to expand on your expertise.

5. Not Proofreading

Proofreading is incredibly important with your cover letter. Sending something in to a prospective employer that is rife with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and typos sends a negative impression. Proofreading shows that you care about the position and are willing to take the time to focus on the details.

6. Making Your Cover Letter Too Long

Cover letters shouldn’t exceed a page in length. You’re not writing the next great novel, and when an employer is sifting through hundreds of applications a long cover letter can feel like a waste of precious time. While you don’t want to be vague or too short, keep your cover letter brief and to the point.

7. Not Following Instructions

Many employers will have specific instructions for cover letters. Sometimes this is how the document should be named, the file type, or even formatting and things to include. Not following these instructions shows employers you aren’t paying attention to the details of the job description and aren’t willing to put in the extra effort. Read job descriptions in full and ensure you follow every instruction so as to make a good impression. 

8. Forgetting to Optimize for Keywords

Along with following instructions, it’s important to optimize your cover letter for keywords found in the job description. Many large organizations will use AI to narrow down the applicant pool, so be sure to add specific keywords found within the job description so that the programs will pick up on them.

9. Adding Demands or Salary Expectations

When writing a cover letter you’re simply introducing yourself and talking about the value you could bring to the company. A cover letter should not include your current salary or what you would expect to be paid if you were offered the position (unless it’s a specific instruction from the job description). This will make it seem like you’re only interested in a salary increase rather than an exciting new role. 

10. Not Concluding with a Call to Action

Ending your cover letter with a call to action is incredibly important. You want to sell yourself to the hiring manager as a valuable contribution to the company, so it’s important to close by asking for them to take action. The conclusion of your cover letter should let them know you’re awaiting their call or email and look forward to interviewing and speaking further. 

Recruitment Partners is Edmonton and Calgary’s premier recruitment firm. If you’re looking for a new role, or need assistance finding the perfect candidate for your business, please contact us! Our team is here to help you end your search.