Tips for Job Seekers
Common Cover Letter Mistakes
Carefully reading your cover letter and
checking for some common mistakes will help ensure that all the hard work you
put into it will be noticed. Some common mistakes are:
- Forgetting to enclose your résumé.
This may be obvious, but it's very important. Make sure you enclose any
materials you mention in your cover letter such as a résumé, transcript,
writing sample, etc.
- Typographical errors.
Edit your work very carefully. Use the "spell check" function on your word
processing software (if you are using a PC) in addition to checking your
work. Nothing turns off an employer more than sloppy cover letters or
materials. The most common typographical errors are:
- Misspelling of the employer's name or
title in the address, greeting, or on the envelope.
- Forgetting to change the name of the
company each time it appears in the application or body of the letter.
- Applying for one position and
mentioning another position in the body of the letter.
- Inaccurate information about the
company. Make sure to verify any information about the company you
intend to use in the letter. Be specific when you tie the information to
your skills. Do not attempt to snow the employer by stating you are
familiar with the company when you don't have specific information to
back it up.
- Inappropriate tone.
Always use a positive manner. Make sure the letter strengthens your
candidacy. It might help if you had someone else read the letter as
- Unrelated Career Goals.
Personalize each letter for the employer. Show a genuine interest in the
position. Remember that the employer is interested in what you can do
for the company. Every part of the letter should support the
purpose for which you are writing. If you are applying for a position as
a sales representative, include only the experience you have that
pertains to that position.
- Emphasizing a lack of experience.
Do not call attention to your shortcomings in a letter. You should only
emphasize your strengths. Focus on your skills, experience, and ability.
Never, ever misrepresent your experience or skills in either your cover
letter or résumé. If it is discovered, it is grounds for immediate
dismissal. If you have achieved something, say so, but do not exaggerate
to the point of misrepresenting the facts.
- Anecdotes. Your cover letter
should be written with a serious, professional tone. Using anecdotes
cause you to run the risk of not being taken seriously. Keep it
polite and respectful.
- Sounding desperate.
Your cover letter should make you sound determined -- not desperate.
Don't "beg" for the position.
- Demanding statements.
Never demand something of the employer in a cover letter. A common
mistake is to say "I'm looking for a position that will adequately
challenge me." The employer will have the impression that you expect to
be put into a position that meets your needs, not the employer's.
- Wrong pronouns.
Use the active voice. Speaking in the third person in a letter is
disconcerting to an employer.
- Gimmicks. Most employers prefer
a simple, well written letter to a gimmicky type product.
- Messy corrections.
Make sure you include all pertinent information. If you forget to
include something, type the letter over. Don't add a supplementary note.
It will make you appear lazy and unprofessional.
- Form Letters.
Mass mailings are not always the best way to find a job. They also don't
allow you to personalize each letter and résumé. Tailor each letter you
send to the position, and demonstrate your interest in and familiarity
with the employer.
- Personal Photos.
Photos are completely unprofessional unless you want to enter modeling,
acting or broadcast journalism.
- Personal Information.
Do not include data such as age, gender, marital status, race, religion,
or any other personal information unless you feel it directly pertains
to the position you are seeking.
- Inappropriate stationery.
The only universally accepted stationery colors are white and ivory.
Using different colors is not always the best way to get an employer's
- Forgetting to sign your letter.
Don't forget to sign your name at the end of the letter. This
personalizes it for the employer. Sign in blue or black ink -- do not
use a script font on your PC to sign your name.
Tips For Job Seekers