Here Are the Mistakes in Your Cover Letter That Keep You From Getting Your Interview

We’ve all had the experience of applying for jobs online – you submit your resume and cover letter to the dark abyss of some online recruiting portal and besides the automatically generated “Thanks for the application!” email, you will never hear a word from an employer.

“They received about a million applications, don’t take it personally,” your friends tell you. Yes, that’s true, they’ve probably gotten a million applications, which is why there are so many articles out there on how to write cover letters and create visually appealing , action- oriented résumés to make yours stand out.

But all too often in your cover letter, you make tiny, easily fixable mistakes that put you in a pile of nos even before someone even gets to your authority. We spoke to dozens of executives and hiring managers in industries like technology, media, advertising, and academia to get the biggest cover letter from them.

You have typos or grammatical errors (especially if the work involves writing in any capacity).

Spellchecking. Checking grammar. Read the letter out loud. You will be surprised how many bugs you catch this way. “For some jobs, just one typo is enough to make it into the No Thanks pile,” says Ruth Ann Harnish, president of the Harnish Foundation.

You are using an archaic or sexist greeting (eg “Dear Sir”).

This is 2017. If you tend to write “Dear Sir” or even “Dear Sir or Madame,” we suggest that you reconsider your decision. The chances are high that the person on the other end of your letter is not “sir”; the likelihood that they are neither sir nor madam, or that they object to being addressed as such, is also quite possible.

“For Whom It Affects” works; “For the hiring team at [Company Name]” is good. If you can find out the name of the HR representative or hiring manager, so much the better – “Dear Ms. Kirsch and Lifehacker staff” means you have done your homework.

You are using a too casual greeting (for example, “Hello”, “Hello”, “Hello!”).

Just like you don’t want to go too formal, you also don’t want to start your letter by showing up for an interview in a dirty tracksuit. This is not a Tinder post, this is a cover letter for the job you supposedly want.

You have no greeting at all.

These letters are read by humans (until robots take over all our work), so take every opportunity to reach out to these people. The non-greeting letter looks like a personal statement in the Shared Attachment, which is a boring formal exercise that no one wants to read.

You do not mention the name of the company you are applying to.

This one came up very often. Personalize your cover letters! Yes, it takes a few extra minutes to show that you’ve really looked at the company and the position you’re applying for, but that’s important. “I am writing to apply for [position] at [the Company]. Then be specific about why you are ideal for the position and want to work for the company.

“Cover letters, which usually refer to a ‘job’ and never mention the company by name, and seem like they could have been copied and sent to 1,000 random companies,” says Nisha Chittal, engagement editor at Racked. Show me why you care about my company and this particular job.

One of the factors that managers look to when hiring is how much you want the job. You don’t have to ask, but you won’t get anywhere if you seem completely uninterested in the situation.

Obviously, you just changed the name of the company you are applying to to another company name, but otherwise the letter is impersonal.

See above. They use your tricks.

It sounds like you are not thrilled to work for this particular company.

Your cover letter is the first thing hiring managers see when evaluating your candidacy. Don’t play to get! He didn’t seem to care about getting a job. Do you want this! You could say that! Unlike, say, inviting someone to a winter celebration, it’s not so scary to appear enthusiastic when they want to.

You are not transferring your current experience to the job you are applying for.

“If you’re applying for an editorial position but all of your past experience is in marketing and you don’t explain why you’re eligible for the switch in your cover letter, that’s a pretty blatant denial,” says Adrian. Granzella Larsen, editor-in-chief of The Muse magazine. If the experience on your resume doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the job, a cover letter is the place to explain it.

You assume that something about the company is not true (for example, “I know that your company has had a difficult year and is going through a reorganization …”).

Show that you have done your research, but be careful not to repeat what you read about the company during the bidding process, which may or may not be true, especially if it is not particularly flattering.

You say bad things about your current or former employers (this also applies to interviews).

Even if you really want to quit your current job, don’t worry. The new company doesn’t care about your old work problems; they want someone with a positive attitude to join their team.

You misspelled the name of the company or spelled it incorrectly.

Yes, you apply for every vacancy. Indeed, you say that remotely matches your parameters, but if you say, “I think I’ll be a big asset at Ford Motor Company,” and you apply for a job at Tesla, Tesla HR Specialist is already moving on to the next candidate.

You misspelled the hiring manager’s name.

Better to use the generic term “Whom it May Concern” than to invent it.

You say that this job will be a “great stepping stone” for you.

The fact that this is true does not mean that you say so. Anything that says “I’m not in this for long,” “I’m too good for you,” or “This job is so much lower than me and I’m only applying for benefits” is a bad idea.

What mistakes have you noticed in your cover letter? What crimes in the cover letter did you commit? Let us know in the comments.


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