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Cover letter mistakes often happen because writing a cover letter is one of the most anxiety-inducing parts of the job application process.

And with good reason.

What do you say?

Who do you address it to?

Do you even have to write one to begin with?

A great cover letter could be the difference between getting an interview or not, so it’s essential that it’s written correctly and includes the correct information.

Do recruiters read cover letters?

According to ResumeLab, 72% of recruiters still expect cover letters even if the job ad states they’re optional.

That’s huge. 

And that means you have an excellent opportunity to stand out from other candidates who don’t bother writing one.

If you need to start writing your cover letter from scratch, check out this post, where I show you exactly how to do that.

If you’ve got one on file that you’re using, continue reading to make sure you’re not making any of these cringe-worthy cover letter mistakes.

Cover letter mistake 1: Getting the Hiring Manager’s Name Wrong

There is a ton of guidance online that says you should find the hiring manager’s name for the position and address your cover letter to that person.

As a hiring manager who frequently gets cover letters addressed to the wrong person, I can tell you that you do not need to find the hiring manager’s name.

Instead of spending time clicking through LinkedIn and making assumptions about the organization’s internal structure, start your cover letter with “Dear Hiring Manager.”

It’s generic, but it’s not offensive.

What is offensive is addressing your cover letter to the wrong person.

Don’t overthink this; use the generic greeting.

Cover letter mistake 2: Writing a two-page cover letter

People. No one likes to read anymore. We skim everything in this digital age, so please don’t sit down to write your life story in your cover letter.

Instead, focus on

1. your interest in the position

2. your recent achievements

3. a summary of your skills, and

4. your contact information.

That’s all.

Your cover letter should be no longer than one page.

I also recommend that it be no longer than four paragraphs.

I know that for some, this is a big shift in how you’ve been told how to write a cover letter.

Believe me when I say that less is more.

Cover letter mistake 3: Not writing a cover letter at all

I know it sucks, but you absolutely have to write a cover letter for every single job you apply for.

While it will not be the document that gets you hired, it is the document that makes the first impression.

Hiring managers can learn a lot about you from how you position your skills and achievements in a cover letter.

It’s worth your time to make a strong first impression.

A well-written cover letter showing your interest and explaining your skills will help you get one step closer to securing the position.

Some companies make them mandatory in their application process, and some do not allow them at all.

If you’re applying for a job, and you have the option to add a cover letter, you must take it.

Need help writing a cover letter? Let me do it for you.