Did you know that the ideal candidate with a fantastic resume could ruin their chances at getting a job interview by including a poorly written, unoriginal cover letter?

Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter or HR Manager who must read all the cover letters of all of the applicants. Most cover letters are dull, formal, and uninteresting to read. Yours could stand out by being very tailored to the company and job, interesting and written with personality.

Cover letter example
photo credit: Egotype / Behance

In order to be hired for a job, the employer needs to get to know your personality and character. Since every single applicant is a faceless, unknown persona, the only thing that can help you showcase your personality is your cover letter.

Your cover letter matters, and before you continue your job search, you may want to check to see if you are committing one of these five classic cover letter mistakes:

Not Customizing It Enough

Any recruiter, employer or HR Manager can spot a copy-and-pasted cover letter from a mile away. This demonstrates the candidate’s laziness, their lack of passion for the company, and their general lack of intuition.

While it’s acceptable to write a cover letter template that you use again and again, it’s still crucial to customize and tailor your cover letter to each unique job posting. Your goal is to personalize the cover letter to match what the company itself stands for, and what the job itself entails. You’ll need to add anecdotes that match the job description, remove details that don’t pertain to the job and change the tone to match the personality of the company.

Including Irrelevant Information

First of all, your cover letter should never be too long. Half a page is enough, and since you’re avoiding it being too long, you’ll need to ensure you don’t include irrelevant information.

There may be some talents, work experience or training that is completely irrelevant to the job you’re applying for. There’s no need to include this in your cover letter, as it won’t help you appear more desirable to the employer.

A job applicant writing resume and its cover letter

Focusing Solely on Yourself

Although the main purpose of a cover letter is to ‘sell’ yourself to the person reading it, your entire cover letter shouldn’t focus on you. You’ll also want to discuss your knowledge of and respect for the company, and you’ll want to discuss the major problems the company has that you could solve if hired. You’ll want to discuss solutions that you could offer the company if you had the chance to work with them. Check out these cover letter examples for some insight into what this strategy looks like.

Don’t keep your cover letter’s sole focus on yourself. Compliments, for example, can go a long way and it’s very smart to compliment the company or employer. If you don’t know enough about the company to do this, then it’s in your best interest to research the company and find strengths to focus on in your cover letter.

Writing A Paragraph Version of Your Resume

Regurgitating your resume is a classic cover letter mistake that many of us make. A cover letter lacks purpose and power if it simply repeats what your resume says, without adding anything different.

You need to add in new and interesting anecdotes, details and life experience that pertains to the job you’re applying for. You need to add background information and insight into your personality that cannot be found anywhere on your resume.

Not Proofreading

It’s crucial that you proofread your cover letter, and you’ll want to look for the following things: Are there areas where you’re repeating yourself? Is your cover letter too dry or too formal? Is your cover letter short and concise enough without rambling on or over-explaining? Are there any typos, grammatical errors or run-on sentences that need to be edited?

Proofread your cover letter by first going over it a few times yourself, and then getting a trusted friend or family member to read it. Although this takes time, it’s worth it because this is what can make or break your shot at being shortlisted and contacted for an interview.

Without an interview, you won’t land the job, so this is not something that should be rushed or written lazily. A thoughtful cover letter will go a long way.