Great Resumes Fast » Cover Letters » 5 Common Cover Letter Mistakes

Everyone wants to know how to write the best cover letter possible but the truth of the matter is what works for one person doesn’t necessarily for another. No two people fit the same cover letter. So if you’re trying to bum off someone else or use what a professional has written for another candidate you’re doing yourself more harm then good. Take a moment and review the 5 most common cover letter mistakes.

5 common cover letter mistakes

1. Using what someone else has written for yourself. Cover letter sin number one is not only plagiarism but its just bad practice. It certainly won’t get you very far either because no two job seekers are alike. Your experience, expertise, and credentials are completely different than job seeker joe over there and your cover letter better be too if you want that job! Create something unique that reflects YOU not someone else.

2. General cover letters work best. Nope, wrong again. Customize your cover letter to the position you are applying to. This includes; incorporating the hiring manager’s name, contact info, and position title. It also includes writing in the title of the position, where you heard about it, and making the content of your cover letter EXTREMELY relevant to the position description.

3. Copying your resume into your cover letter. This is by far the most common mistake I’ve seen. Give me something juicy in the cover letter, something that entices me to read your resume but doesn’t just repeat what I’m going to read on your resume. I want – to want – to read your resume, make your cover letter make me want to read your resume.

4. Using BORING and OVERUSED openers. Blah! I’m so tired of “In response to your ad for XYZ position with XYZ Inc.” That is not original or creative. I want an employee that is creative, orginal, and dynamic. Show me that in your cover letter, captivate me in that first sentence. Remember job searches are based on exclusion not inclusion. Hiring managers are looking for a reason to toss your resume and you have to fight to be at the top. Instead try something bold like:

“Your Sales Management advertisement addresses my qualifications so ideally, one would think we’ve met. And we should – because I can offer you precisely the experience for which you have been searching.”

5. Matching doesn’t matter. Ooooh myth number 5. All I have to say is your cover letter better match your resume; in font, font size, format, layout, design, etc. While the content of your cover letter should be different than your resume your cover letter design should definitely match your resume design. This shows organization, attention-to-detail, and that extra effort that goes much further than you would believe.

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by all the ‘rules’ and ‘standards’ for resumes and cover letters don’t fret. There are professionals out there who know all the ins and outs and are more than happy to assist in the process. Great Resumes Fast provides professional resume reviews for FREE. Send your resume to info [at] greatresumesfast [dot] com to have your resume reviewed today.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Extenze on August 14, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Generally I do not post on blogs, but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by lisahutchins, Ben Keeling. Ben Keeling said: 5 Common Cover Letter Mistakes | GreatResumesFast #resume #jobsearch […]

  3. Joseph Litvin on November 18, 2009 at 10:40 pm

    Excellent advice!

  4. Janice on November 19, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the info. Good to know that I am pretty much on point…I fall under mistake number 4. I’ll have to work on that.

  5. Morgan on November 20, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    What great advice and I have to say I am guilty of all 5 common mistakes. I also know that writing cover letters is my weakness.

    I have a lot to work on!!! But your advice is well worth the read.


  6. GB on November 24, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    “Remember job searches are based on exclusion not inclusion” Reminds days in India when I graduated from 4 year college and was “desperate” to find some job.
    Exclusion should not be the

    US market has proven opposite exclusion to me, Its more inclusion than exclusion, its more of “giving relevant opportunity” to people, help them get to the next stage in life, giving them that “you can do it” tap on the shoulder. I have hired several people in IT and my attitude has always been that of inclusion. Hope the society, culture here fosters honesty, integrity and opportunity where the inner self genius gets a chance to shine in every one’s life time. Gud luck.

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