Trashed: 4 Cover Letter Mistakes that Lead to the Delete Key

Gain the competitive edge by staying away from these faux pas

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One minute or less. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), that’s how long most employers take to read or scan a cover letter.

As a college graduate, fresh off campus, you may be tempted to list every organization, internship or class that you participated in during your college career. But, this isn’t the time to write a tell-all book, regurgitate your resume or leave your proofreading skills at home. Here are 4 cover letter writing mistakes to avoid.

Gosh, she jst caint spel: Proofread —or have someone else read—every letter that you send. Your letter reflects your ability to write and communicate and most employers are immediately turned off by spelling and typo mistakes. Ask friends and family to proofread your document.

Clearly, he didn’t even do his homework: The “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern,” are generic indicators you just didn’t take the time to find out who the point of contact for hiring is. Basic research of the company’s Website or a phone call to the company can help you find the hiring manager. It shows you take initiative and you’re on point.

Thanks for the life story, but no thanks. Writing too much can hurt just as much as not writing enough. Keep your cover letter to two or three high-impact paragraphs that describe why you are the perfect candidate. Add in one-line examples that show, not tell. Be creative but keep in mind the company you’re writing to and their brand.

So, you probably just copied and pasted that same letter to a competitor. Experts say it’s not a good idea to send the same cover letter to all companies. In order to customize your letters to specific employers, take time to do your research. Since employers spend only a few seconds glancing at your cover letter, it should be easy to read and compelling.

  • Stacey B

    Great information on cover letters, however you spelled “writing” wrong…
    “Be creative but keep in mind the company you’re righting to and their brand.”
    Otherwise on point. Thank you
    Stacey B

  • disqus_ybo7kmfbs8

    There is some good information here. I noticed “righting” instead of writing as well.