6 Cover Letter Mistakes to Look Out For

September 17, 2013

Luke Roney, editor of, published an article for the U.S. News & World Report LP about the 6 Cover Letter mistakes you should avoid based on real cover letters. Some of these may appear obvious but they are worth repeating.

Don’t be Self-Serving. While everyone wants a job that benefits them financially, personally and professionally, this is not what your cover letter should be about. Your cover letter should express the benefits the company will receive if they hire you. But remember don’t be too cocky.

Desperation. This trait is less than desirable in anyone. Saying that you will do “any job for any pay” in your cover letter is the professional equivalent of holding up a sign that says “will work for food.” If you are interested in multiple positions at the company, preface it by stating that you are open to multiple positions in the company because you have various interests and really feel like any position in the company would be a great way to put your various talents to use because you believe it is a great company.

Irrelevant. No recruiter cares if you switched your major in college 3 times or if you enjoy salsa dancing and margaritas (unless you’re applying to be a college recruiter or work in a salsa club). While personal details may eventually be shared in the interview or after a job offer, the cover letter has no place for them. Stick to writing about your skills and experiences that are relevant to the position.

Too short.  We can all agree that in today’s busy world shorter is normally better but if the recruiter doesn’t have enough time to blink once before they finish reading your cover letter it probably isn’t long enough. Roney suggests three to five paragraphs as the ideal length.

Long-Winded.  Your cover letter shouldn’t be two sentences but this doesn’t mean ramble. The point of the cover letter is to encourage the reader to look at your resume, draw them in with some information and leave them wanting more.  Don’t talk about every position and every responsibility in your cover letter, let your resume speak for itself. Think of it as a preview to you and your resume. If you have a good cover letter the recruiter will be more inclined to read your resume and if you have a good resume the recruiter will be more inclined to arrange an interview and so on.

Carelessness. Nothing looks more unprofessional then multiple typos in your cover letter or resume. We make mistakes but typos in something as important as your cover letter, normally a recruiter’s first impression of you, can be a huge turn off. If you are this careless before you get the job how much can they expect you to care when you have gotten it. Proof read! Don’t rely on spell check. A good rule of thumb is to print a copy and read it out loud line by line at least twice.

These same rules apply when doing “Letters of Intent” or in trying to get your next listing in Commercial Real Estate. Writing is a powerful tool when used well.

Roney shares real life examples of each in his article check it out here:

Learn From These  Real-Life  Cover Letter Failures