10 Common Mistakes To Look Out For In A Covering Letter

Tried and tested, the humble covering letter is still relevant. With so many talented individuals out there, it might be the only way to make you stand out of the crowd. 

So, let your personality shine. What better way to get the sense of somebody’s cultural fit, than spotting it in your covering letter. 

Inevitably, we all slip up eventually. Here are 10 common mistakes to avoid in your covering letter:

1. Using the wrong information

So, first off, do your research. Addressing your cover letter to the wrong person is inexcusable. 

It also makes you look like you aren’t that bothered about your application, and that you lack the ability to use the internet!

No address details available? Well, leave it out entirely and state your name alongside the targeted role. The hiring manager may be keeping the company details under wraps unless you are successful.

Plus, if you don’t invest time in finding out who your potential employer could be, should they, in turn, invest time and energy in you?

2. Grammatical errors

Straight off the bat, if you want your application to land in the rejection pile don’t bother to check for typos or spelling mistakes. 

The hirer will automatically assume that you were distracted or simply too lazy to check through your application properly. Or even worse, that your written skills are weak. 

Remember, your covering letter is the entryway into grabbing your future employer’s attention. A well-written letter also shows how good your communication skills are, so read it through thoroughly. Spell check isn’t going to win you the role after all. 

3. Saying too much

Time pressures and resources aren’t always that easy for hiring managers or recruiters to come by. So submitting a multi-page covering letter is unlikely to be read at all. 

Sticking to one page is more than enough to give them a taste of what you have to offer. Writing in bitesize nuggets or bullet points will efficiently get your point across. Easier to read and less time consuming, it will get you off to a solid start. 

4. Not tailoring your cover letter to the role

A one size fits all covering letter is not going to cut it in today’s employment market. If you forget or don’t bother to custom write your covering letter to target the specific job description, the hiring manager won’t think twice to tell you no. 

Having a template or an outline is ok. Just remember to tweak it to make it relevant. 

5. Too casual or way too formal

Before writing your covering letter, try and get a sense of the company’s culture first. Check out their online careers section, and read through their job specification carefully. If they have a social media account, take a look. 

Network with past and present employees and get a feel for the right tone.

Whatever you do, avoid the overly formal openers like “To Whom It May Concern.” This sort of introduction can go down like a lead balloon in the recruitment process. Whereas, “hey” or “hi” are far too casual. 

Professionalism is always key. Even the trendier start-up companies have a hiring code. 

If you are unsure of how to begin, stick to safe. “Dear Hiring Manager” is likely to be better received than “Hey there!” 

6. Overly humble

Honesty is generally the best policy. However, you do have to think carefully about your delivery. 

Candidates often fall into the trap of playing themselves down. Not wanting to sound full of themselves or arrogant, perspective employees are their own worst enemy. 

If you have leadership qualities, write about them! Thrive in communication, listening or relationships, let them know! 

Hiring managers want to know about your greatest achievements and what you do well. How else are they supposed to net the best talent?

7. Way too confident

Inflated egos are not attractive. Simple. 

As wonderful and talented you are, raving or boasting about it isn’t going to win you any friends in the hiring department. Finding a balance between fact-based achievements and how incredible you are is achievable. 

8. Over explaining

The past is kept in the past for a reason. Focusing on the negatives is not going to give the right impression in your cover letter. 

Hiring managers don’t want to know why you were laid off or why you quit your previous job. Be forward-thinking and raring to go. 

9. References

Ok, references belong in your CV, not your covering letter. Just don’t do it!

10. Lies

Lying in any part of your application, let alone covering letter is pointless. You will be found out eventually, so don’t bother!

Found your dream job? Or about to start your search? Get off the ground running with perfecting your covering letter. Need extra help? Come and see what we can do for you!