Cover Letter Calamities: 5 Mistakes That Sink Your Application

The job hunt: a battlefield where every advantage counts. You’ve spent hours perfecting your resume, highlighting achievements and tailoring skills to each position. But have you neglected a crucial weapon in your arsenal – the cover letter?

A well-written cover letter can be the difference between landing an interview and getting lost in the slush pile. However, even the most qualified candidate can sabotage their application with a poorly crafted cover letter. Here are the top 5 mistakes you should avoid:

Mistake #1: The Generic Greeting

“Dear Hiring Manager,” “To Whom It May Concern,” – these impersonal greetings scream “mass application.” Hiring managers receive countless applications, and a generic greeting shows a lack of effort and research.


Take a few minutes to find the hiring manager’s name. Often, this information is listed on the job posting or company website. If unavailable, try reaching out to the company’s HR department to inquire. A simple “Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name]” goes a long way in showing you’ve put in the extra effort.

Mistake #2: All About You, Not About Them

Your resume details your skills and experiences. Your cover letter should be about the company and the position. Don’t spend paragraphs listing your achievements without connecting them to the job.


Focus on the company’s mission, values, and the specific role you’re applying for. Mention what excites you about the opportunity and how your skills align with their needs. For example, if the company emphasizes innovation, showcase a time you implemented a creative solution in a previous role.

Mistake #3: The Resume Rehash

Your cover letter isn’t a copy-paste job from your resume. Don’t simply regurgitate your job titles and responsibilities.


Use the cover letter to elaborate on specific achievements mentioned in your resume. Quantify your results with data and metrics whenever possible. Did you spearhead a project that increased sales by 20%? Highlight that impact in your cover letter!

Cover Letter Templates

Mistake #4: The Grammar Gauntlet

Typos, grammatical errors, and clunky sentence structure paint a picture of carelessness and unprofessionalism.


Proofread your cover letter meticulously before submitting it. Use spellcheck, but don’t rely solely on it. Read it aloud to catch awkward phrasing or typos you might miss otherwise. Having a friend or family member proofread it can also be helpful for an extra set of eyes.

Mistake #5: The Enthusiasm Explosion (or Lack Thereof)

Your cover letter needs to convey your genuine interest in the opportunity. Avoid overly formal language that sounds robotic. However, steer clear of excessive informality or overly casual jokes.


Strike a balance between professionalism and enthusiasm. Show your passion for the company and the industry. Mention a specific project or initiative that aligns with your interests. This demonstrates genuine interest and helps you stand out from the crowd.

Bonus Tip: The Formatting Faux Pas

A visually cluttered cover letter is just as distracting as a poorly written one.


Use a clear and easy-to-read font. Maintain consistent spacing and margins. Bullet points can be helpful for highlighting key skills or achievements.

By avoiding these common mistakes and implementing these simple tips, you can craft a cover letter that showcases your skills and makes a lasting impression on the hiring manager. Remember, a well-written cover letter can be the key that unlocks the door to your dream job. So, ditch the generic approach, personalize your message, and get ready to watch your applications rise above the competition.

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