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5 Worst Cover Letter Mistakes And How You Can Avoid Them

Have you been making these 5 cover letter mistakes?

Tell us the truth… how many times this year have you desperately searched online for cover letter advice? Unless it’s January 1st, we’re willing to bet you’ve searched at least 10000 times. Or it feels like that amount of times anyway. 

Well you can stop searching (and crying into your keyboard). We’ve got some basic tips you need to follow when writing that all important cover letter.

You should know by now that writing a cover letter can be essential to standing out in your graduate job application. Think about it. If you and another candidate with exactly the same experience apply to the same role but they write a cover letter and explain why they’re the perfect match for the role and you don’t… they’re far more likely to land the job. 

In fact, 53% of employers have revealed that they prefer candidates who submit cover letters with their CVs. 

However, it isn’t enough to just slap together a couple of sentences (or download a cover letter template) and call it a day. There’s 5 common mistakes you might make right now that will hurt your chances of getting hired. Let’s take a look at what they are and how you can avoid them…

Mistake 1: Not Tailoring Your Cover Letter To The Company Or Role

You should always tailor your cover letter to the company or role you’re applying for. If you’ve been copying and pasting your cover letter for those last 5 roles you got rejected for, that’s probably why. 

Avoid copying and pasting your cover letter at all costs!!! Did we emphasise that enough? Maybe some more exclamation points are needed.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There you go.

Unlike your CV, your cover letter is an opportunity to demonstrate a couple of things. What you know about the company, why you want to work for them, and why you’re the right person for the job. 

Including generic sentences such as ‘I feel like I would be an excellent fit for this company’ just implies a lack of effort. And why would they want to hire someone who clearly doesn’t care enough to write a couple of paragraphs? Instead, link your skills to the specific role and company with examples.

For example:

‘I’ve been captivated by [XY Company]’s use of social media platforms such as Twitter to reach a Gen-Z audience over the past few years. This particularly resonated with me as my final year University project required in-depth research about media consumption among the younger generation, providing me with a clear understanding of how campaigns such as [XY Company Campaign] successfully targeted XY audiences’.

We know, writing a whole ass cover letter for every new job role is exhausing. Take your time and don’t feel as though you need to be sending off 10+ applications every day to get hired – you don’t. 

Quality over quantity – 1 well thought out cover letter is worth 10 copied and pasted ones.

Mistake 2: Not Doing Your Research

In order to tailor your cover letter to the specific company or role, you need to do your research. Aaaand order to do research for your cover letter, you need to cover 3 important areas.

The company, the role and the industry. Having an awareness of each will make the process of writing your cover letter 10000000x easier. 

You’ll need to have an understanding of the company so you can match their values to your own in the beginning of your cover letter. 

You need an understanding of the role so you can know exactly which experience to talk about in the middle of your cover letter. 

Finally, an understanding of the industry is required. Drop this in throughout (or even later on during your interview stage). Showing commercial awareness can seriously make you stand out, especially against other students or graduates.

You’d be surprised at the amount of grads who know absolutely nothing about what’s going on in their industry. Literally no thoughts, just vibes.

Mistake 3: Repeating Content From Your CV In Your Cover Letter

Cover letters and CVs are very different. Though you might mention the same internship or project, your CV will focus on demonstrating your skills and results (best done with our SAR method) whilst your cover letter will take this further. 

Your cover letter will explain why these skills are relevant to the job you’re applying for, and give you a chance to explain your motivations for applying.

Mistake 4: Bad Structuring 

If you’ve been struggling to write your cover letter, chances are you’ve googled ‘how to structure a cover letter’ at least 10 times. For more info on how to structure your cover letter, you can download our Ultimate Guide to Cover Letters

However, some basic tips you should follow include keeping it under 1 page, avoiding paragraphs longer than 12 or so lines as this makes it harder for the hiring manager to read, and 70% of recruiters agree that cover letters should not exceed 250 to 300 words. 

Mistake 5: Including Irrelevant Information

Just like your CV, including irrelevant information on your cover letter could mean you lose out on that job. You’ve got around 300 words to play with, so to make sure you showcase only your most relevant experience. 

You can do this by studying the job description and picking out around 3 key skills/traits they’re asking for. Write a sentence or two for each, and link your experience to its application in the role. It’s a common mistake, but one you can sort out pretty easily.

Free cover letter guide

If you’ve been making these 5 cover letter mistakes up until now, that’s okay – you won’t next time! If you’d like a Cover Letter Review or 1-1 help writing your cover letter, you can book a session with our team. 

Now, go out there and smash it!

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