5 Cover Letter Mistakes

Posted by in Career Advice


by Alex A. Kecskes

You’re ready to write the cover letter for that coveted engineering job. It’s the one that will move your career into the fast track. And these days, that’s just what you need.

Your resume is polished and professional looking. But the cover letter is your personality. HR managers will be scrutinizing it for any faux pas. It has to be perfect. Here’s how to make it so by avoiding the five common cover letter blunders:

Wrong Salutation. Using Dear Sir or Sirs in the salutation could get you into trouble. The HR manager, Senior Engineer or Engineering VP could very well be a woman. So find out who you’ll be sending your cover letter to—contact the company. Or use LinkedIn, Zoominfo.com, Spoke.com, ReferenceUSA.com (at your library) or the company’s About Us page.

Typos and Grammatical Errors. Proof your cover letter. Have a friend proof it too. Don’t use overly long sentences. Vary the sentence length for impact. And don’t get cute with question marks, exclamation marks and foreign words.

What’s in it for me. Indicate what you can do for the company, not the other way around. Sell your abilities to improve the bottom line, add value to their engineering department, and enhance their product or service offerings.

One size-fits-all letter. Just because the last cover letter you wrote got you an interview doesn’t mean you should use it over and over. Customize your letter to reflect the needs of the company. Acknowledge the company’s accomplishments, awards, and successes. Show that you did some digging into the company and understand its position in the industry.

You sound boring and weak. Never make it sound like you need this job to pay the rent, move out of your parent’s house or pay off your student loans. Be assertive and positive. Show confidence in your ability to specifically meet the objectives of the job. On the other hand, don’t get too cocky or over confident by saying things like, “It’s a mistake if you don’t hire me.”

For an added perspective, check out this video:

Got any thoughts on improving cover letters? Include them in the comments section below.

Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients. Please see more of his blogs and view additional job postings on Nexxt.


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch