Without a doubt, writing a cover letter seems to be the most anxiety-inducing part of the application process for most people. 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 important that it’s written correctly and includes the right information.

Do Recruiters Read Cover Letters?

According to Jobvite data, 26% of recruiters consider cover letters important in their decision to hire an applicant. That may seem low, but if you think about it, that means one out of every four cover letters you submit will likely be read.

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 Mistakes

1. Getting the Hiring Manager’s Name Wrong

There is a ton of guidance out there that says you should find the name of the hiring manager 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 go find the hiring manager’s name.

Instead of spending your time clicking through LinkedIn and making assumptions about the internal structure of the organization, just 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, just use the generic greeting.

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’s 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, and really, it should be no longer than four paragraphs. I know that for some this is a big shift in the way that you’ve been told how to write a cover letter, but believe me when I say that less is more.

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 the way you position your skills and achievements in a cover letter, so it’s worth your time to make a strong first impression.

A well-written cover letter that shows your interest and explains 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.

Grab this free cover letter template and follow the format when you write your next cover letter.

You’re sure to make a great first impression.