Six Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid
by Kevin Donlin
Some hiring managers place a lot of emphasis on the cover letter. Some don't.
But all will agree that careless mistakes in your cover letter can doom the best
resume and short-circuit any job search.
With that in mind, here are six cover letter mistakes to avoid ...
Never begin your letter with "Dear Sir." If the employer is a woman, she won't
be thrilled. And, more likely, you won't be called. Don't know the recipient's
gender? Start with something like "Dear Hiring Manager," or "Dear Employer."
The "3rd grade essay" effect
While it is acceptable to hand write a brief thank-you card, all other
correspondence should be typewritten, or, better yet, done on a laser printer.
Handwritten cover letters simply aren't professional in the current millennium.
Avoid dot matrix printers. Most produce hard-to-read letters that look like
something from the IRS. Use a laser printer, even if you have to rent one from a
local print shop.
The "Bureau of Missing Persons" effect
Don't forget to include your phone number and other crucial contact information.
A no-brainer, right? Wrong. One applicant wrote, "Please call me at your next
convenience," but didn't include a phone number. Not good.
The speed bump
Long, dense, text-heavy paragraphs. Avoid them. Remember -- your reader has a
stack of cover letters to plow through. Make his or her job easier by limiting
your paragraphs to four or five lines, at most. And never exceed one page.
Don't write like someone who's been hit over the head with a dictionary. Here's
an example: "I specialize in the implementation of workplace solutions that
leverage self-directed teams toward increased throughput." Huh? Write as you
You can avoid all six of the errors above if you do two things: take your time
writing, then ask a trusted friend to review your letter.
Keep this final point in mind as you write. After reading every sentence in your
cover letter, ask yourself: "So, what?" Is that last sentence compelling, or
fluff? Necessary? TRUE? If not, rewrite or remove it. Then ask yourself "So,
what?" again. Revise until every sentence shines!
(For information about my ebook of 21 Guaranteed Cover Letter templates, please
Best of luck to you!
Donlin is Managing Editor of 1 Day Resumes. The 1DR writers provide same-day, one-on-one resume writing assistance. He is also author of "Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed," a do-it-yourself manual that
will help you find a job in 30 days ... or your money back. For more information, please visit the
"Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed," Web site.