6 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid | Sarina Russo

6 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid
By Sarina Russo Editorial Team
Sarina Russo Employment Consultant Discussing Cover Letter Tips

A cover letter is a single-page document that accompanies your job application and serves as an introduction to your resume.

As your cover letter is the first thing employers usually read, it must make an excellent impression and entice further reading.

Having a tailored, error-free cover letter is a crucial part of your job application process. Your cover letter can make or break your chances of becoming shortlisted for an interview. 83% of recruiters surveyed by ResumeLab agreed that a great cover letter can make them decide to interview a candidate even if they think their resume isn’t very good. ¹

With the stakes so high, it's crucial you take your time when writing your cover letter and ensure it's done to the best of your ability. As one of Australia's largest Workforce Australia agencies, we have read thousands of cover letters and have seen some great and some poorly written ones. Below are six common mistakes that can be easily avoided.


1. Avoid attaching your cover letter as a Word Doc.

Unless the recruiter indicates a special format, you should always export your cover letter and resume in a PDF format. Not only are PDFs more professional, but they are also less problematic to upload, and the formatting, layout and design are preserved.

Once you have made your resume in Microsoft Word, you can export it as a PDF document. To do this, click: File > Save As > PDF (*.pdf)


2. Keep your cover letter to one page

Your cover letter should be short, sharp and to the point. Anything over one page will likely be overlooked and disregarded.

According to Ian Siegel, CEO and Co-founder of ZipRecruiter, hiring managers and recruiters spend an average of 20 seconds reviewing a cover letter.² So make sure it’s easy to read and straight to the point.


3. Exclude your physical address

Do not include your personal address on your cover letter or resume. It's not necessary for the initial recruitment stages and could lead to potential privacy concerns.

Instead, list your mobile, e-mail and any social media accounts you use for business purposes.


4. Avoid clichés and buzzwords

Recruiters read hundreds of applications a year. To attract a recruiter's attention and ensure yours stands out from the rest, avoid cliché s and buzzwords.

Some vague and overused phrases include:

  • Best-in-Class
  • Always gives 110%
  • Think outside of the box
  • Go-getter
  • Track record of success
  • People person


5. Don’t use the same cover letter again and again

Every job opportunity you apply for should have its own personalised cover letter. A copy and paste job won't work.

Ensure you do the following in each cover letter:

  • Use the hiring manager’s name (first and last)
  • Name the company and position you’re applying for
  • Connect your skills and abilities to the information listed in the job advertisement


6. Make sure there are no errors

Before hitting send on your application, check for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Ask a few people to proofread it for you to make sure you haven’t missed anything. A simple typo could see you taken off the interview list.


[1] Is a Cover Letter Necessary in 2021? Do I Need a Cover Letter? Retrieved 28 September 2021, from https://resumelab.com/cover-letter/are-cover-letters-necessary

[2] The only 3 things you should include in a cover letter (Hint: It's not your qualifications) Retrieved 24 September 2021, from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/26/the-3-only-things-you-should-include-in-a-cover-letter.html


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