A Glaring Cover Letter Mistake and How You Can Fix It Today!

A Glaring Cover Letter Mistake and How You Can Fix It Today!


Cover letters say a lot about you. They are more important than you realize and deserve the proper attention. Why would you submit a dynamic resume and fall flat on your cover letter? Therefore, you need to nail this part of your application as well. One of the biggest mistakes I see in cover letters is also the easiest one to fix: appropriately addressing the reader. This critical component illustrates you are someone that takes initiative or chooses the easy way out. So many things can play a factor in the hiring process if you really want to impress a company, use every opportunity you can. Here is our best advice for sidestepping this problem and coming out on top!

1.     A cover letter needs to be addressed to the appropriate person. Please do not use To Whom This May Concern! This shows no resourcefulness on your part. It is obvious that you could not be bothered to look up the name on the job description (usually there is a name or attention to on the posting). This leaves a lackluster first impression and sours the reader immediately, especially since this is the person you didn’t care enough to greet properly. Dear Hiring Manager isn’t a better option. If there is not a name listed on the job description, go over to the company website and do a little research. I am sure you will be able to dig up some information about hiring managers/recruiters. If not, LinkedIn will most likely be your best friend. Run a few searches until you find someone in Talent, Human Resources, or Recruitment for the business and location you are applying. You may also learn a little bit about this person, which could come in handy if they end up being the person who does interview you!

When in doubt, it is better to have a name rather than an empty salutation. If your research provides you with several names and you are not sure which one to choose, the individual higher up the chain is always a good suggestion. If it wasn’t the correct person they will see that it gets into the appropriate hands.

2.     Use a proper greeting and salutation. Remember your cover letter is geared for a professional audience. There is a time and a place to break from tradition and formality, but this is not it! You should begin with Dear and should include a formal name, for example, Dear Mr. John Smith. If it is a female and you are not sure of marital status and/or age err on the side of caution and use the salutation Ms. instead. These are not your buddies so don’t treat them as such. The formality shows that you hold them in regard and take the process seriously.

In addition, check that you have spelled their name correctly. Then check again. This is a real sign of respect and goes a long way. If you took the time to find out whom to address the letter to, don’t throw that away by screwing up the spelling of their name.  (This is an even bigger red flag if you are touting you have great attention to detail anywhere on your resume or cover letter.) You may not get a lot of recognition for getting it right, but you would certainly get negative attention for getting it wrong.

As you can see, this common cover letter mistake is easily rectified with a little bit of effort on your part. When you properly address your cover letter, it illustrates that you go the extra mile and that you are engaged and interested in the position. It also looks personalized and doesn’t give the impression that you are sending out a mass cover letter to every company you are applying. Start out with the best possible impression and stop giving people a reason to eliminate you from the get-go!