Job Interview Tips Resumes & Cover Letters

5 Cover Letter Mistakes That Will Cost You the Interview

Written by Peter Jones

To write a good cover letter is to walk a very fine line between confident salesmanship and not sounding like an arrogant shill. To avoid the common pitfalls, and make sure your great letter isn’t annoying the recruiters for your ideal jobs, eradicate any of the following gaffs from your letter before sending it out again.

1. An Abundance of”Bests” and “Perfects”

Even if you believe it, try not to state that you’re the “best person for the job,” or even “a perfect fit.” You don’t need to sell yourself with superlatives. You need to sell yourself with your skills and experience. Come off confident, not cocky. Humble, but not too passive. Figure out what sorts of qualifications you have that make you quote-unquote perfect for the job, then highlight those. Show don’t tell!

2. Generics

The Objective is the thing of the past. Instead of saying what you want (which is the same as what every other candidate wants, by the way), say why you’re uniquely qualified to be an asset to their company and solve all their problems by filling all their needs for this position.

3. Unnecessary Explanations

You may think it’s a good idea to explain why you left your last job. It isn’t. There’s probably not a way for you to accomplish what you want with this explanation without badmouthing your former employer (bad) or making yourself look bad (worse). Save it for the interview—and only if it comes up. Focus on the positive instead—your forward movement towards increasing your success.

4. Buzzwords

You may be a “team player.” You may even be “reliable” and “a hard worker,” or want to “maximize your potential.” But these words have become toxic from overuse. Find a new and fresh way to state your case. The recruiter will be both grateful and pleasantly surprised.

5. Jokes

Just assume these aren’t gong to land on paper. They’ll probably have the opposite effect—as in: they won’t be funny. You might even offend someone or come off as unprofessional. Save your witticisms for the interview. Keep the cover letter clean, professional, and surgically precise.


About the author

Peter Jones