When applying for a job, your cover letter can either help you stand out over other candidates or send your application to the trash bin. From addressing your cover letter to the wrong company or bad mouthing a former boss, we’ve put together a list of mistakes job seekers can’t afford to make when it comes to cover letters:

Addressing the wrong company and contact

Before we get into the content of your cover letter, be sure you don’t address a cover letter to the wrong contact or organization. Try your best to find the name of the hiring manager so you can address it to a specific contact rather than addressing it to the hiring manager. If your cover letter doesn’t include accurate information, including the position being applied for, it might get thrown into the reject pile.

Having a generic objective

If your cover includes an objective about how you want to find a full-time position with a reputable company with advancement opportunities, take a number. Using valuable space on your cover letter with obvious information isn’t going to help you land an interview. Instead, use this space to focus on the position being applied to and how you’re the right candidate for the job.

Including irrelevant experience

A common mistake employers find when reviewing cover letters is including disconnected experience without relating it to the job being applied to. If you’re applying to a sales jobs, don’t include information about your finance background without adding context. Employers look as this as being lazy and not paying attention – qualities they aren’t looking for in an employee.

Making it all about you

The purpose of a cover letter is to make your case as why you’re the ideal candidate for a job without summarizing your resume – the hiring manager will read that next. You also want to communicate why they should hire you, so don’t take up a lot of room telling them how great you are; communicate how your skills and experience make you the ideal candidate. Use this room to address how you can help the company deal with responsibilities outlined in the job description.

Being arrogant

Although you need to sell yourself, you want to avoid arrogant superlatives at all cost. Avoid terms such as ‘best candidate’ and ‘perfect fit’ when describing your capabilities. Be confident, not cocky, and use your experience and career highlights to showcase you’re the best candidate for the job.

Bad-mouthing previous employers

You shouldn’t do it in a job interview, and you shouldn’t do it in your cover letter. Saying anything negative in your cover letter is going to hurt your chances at getting a job interview. Employers and recruiters don’t want to read about how your last boss was unfair.

Your cover letter is often the first thing a potential employer sees when reviewing your job application. If your cover letter contains any of the mistakes outlined above, it can hurt your chances at making it to the interview stage.

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