There are certain errors that promise to diminish your hard work of writing a cover letter. From typographical mishaps to erroneous employer information, all mistakes have a negative impact on the application process. Serious errors will land your application in the wastebasket. Be forewarned: Carefully read your cover letter at least twice.
The following list outlines some of the most common cover letter mistakes and, more importantly, suggests ways to correct them. These examples have been adapted from real-life cover letters gathered during the course of our research. Although some of these blunders may seem obvious, they occur far more often than you might think. Needless to say, none of the inquiries that included these mistakes met with positive results.
1. Unrelated career goals: Tailor your cover letter to the specific position applied for. A hiring manager is only interested in what you can do for the company, not what you hope to accomplish for yourself. Your letter should convey a genuine interest in the position and a long-term pledge to fulfilling its duties. Consider the difference between these two real-life examples:
Example A (wrong way): "While my true goal is to become a Professional Dancer, I am exploring the option of taking on proofreading work while continuing to train for the Boston Ballet's next audition."
Example B (right way): "I am very interested in this proofreading position, and I am confident of my ability to make a long-term contribution to your capable staff."
2. Comparisons and cliches: Avoid obvious comparisons and overused cliches; such expressions distract from your letter's purpose: to highlight your most impressive skills and accomplishments.
Here are a few real-life blunders we encountered: "My word processor runs like the wind," "I am a people person," "Teamwork is my middle name," "Your company is known as the creme de la creme of accounting firms," "I am as smart as a whip," "Among the responses you receive for this position, I hope my qualifications make me leader of the pack." So, remember to adopt a formal, professional writing style.