the cover letter what not to do

The Cover Letter: What Not To Do

Posted at 04 October 2016

Cover letters can make or break you.

If you’re in the market for a job that gets you off the ramen diet, read on. There are a lot of ways to screw up a cover letter. Don’t let this put you off writing one though, they are super important to landing a job, and your resume is almost useless without one. While anyone can write a cover letter, you’d be surprised how many people make the mistakes I’m about to list. If you’re one of them, no judgement, just edit it for next time! Here are the biggest mistakes you can make when writing a cover letter.

You don’t write one

Duh. It’s almost impossible to find a job advertisement nowadays that doesn’t ask for a cover letter, so if you haven’t written one, get writing. A cover letter shows that you’ve made an effort to tell the employer how you believe the job suits you best – if you haven’t submitted one they will assume you don’t care. Immediately in the trash pile. Don’t be in the trash pile.

You make spelling mistakes

Nothing, and I repeat – nothing is worse than reading a cover letter with spelling mistakes in it! Please, please, please read it before you click ‘send’! Spelling mistakes tell the employer a lot about you. Either you’re:

  • Not very good at spelling (not ideal)
  • You’re not detail oriented (also not ideal)
  • You don’t care

Like anything in life, check your work. I repeat: don’t be in the trash pile.

The job ad asks you something specific, and you miss it

You can tell someone how you’re ‘detail oriented’ until the cows come home, but if you don’t read the job ad carefully, all of that means sweet nothin’. Many job ads will try to be sneaky and put something in the description about what they want to see in your application. Examples could be:

  • List 5 reasons you’re best for the job
  • At the end of your cover letter, tell us your favourite movie (yes, they do that)
  • Submit your cover letter in Times New Roman font

If you miss these things, you’ve pretty much shot yourself in the foot. Do yourself a favour and read the description carefully, it’s the difference between being employed and unemployed.

You put a photo on it and enlarge it

Sure, include a photo of yourself if you want, but your appearance should have no bearing on your ability to do a job well, so usually I leave my photo off the resume altogether. However, if you’re one of those people with one good headshot that you use on all your resumes and blow up to take up a whole corner of the page, maybe reign it in, yeah? They’ll know what you look like in the interview, save your time and effort for the words on the page, your photo won’t distract them for long.

List qualifications that have nothing to do with the role

If you’re going for a job as a doctor’s office receptionist don’t tell them about all the times you made coffee at Gloria Jeans. Sure, customer service weighs in to the equation there, but don’t list off your abilities to Windex windows and sweep a floor. It’s irrelevant and it wastes their time. Lots of jobs are competitive, and if you don’t get to the good stuff straight away, guess where you’re going? Trash pile. Because it’s trash now.

Your email address is from 2001

If you’re rocking a email address, you do you, but maybe make a more professional one for this, ya feel? While I’m sure your love for MCR is unparalleled and they probably spoke to you on a deeper level when skinny jeans were the height of sophistication, tuck that baby away for your spam mail because it won’t look great at the top of your cover letter.

Cover letters aren’t that daunting once you get started. Just list what’s relevant to the role and make sure you check your work before you send it anywhere! Take your time and concentrate. Once you write one good cover letter you’ll be able to adapt it to lots of job applications.

Good luck!