4 common mistakes in your cover letter

Do you want to ensure that your cover letter is great? Maybe you’ve already applied to a series of jobs, sadly without getting an interview, or maybe you just started your job search. Regardless, it is important for you to know that there are certain common and classic mistakes that you absolutely have to avoid in your cover letters. 

These common mistakes might be the reason for you not being invited to interviews and therefore not getting the job. Maybe you’re sending out cover letters rather than motivated cover letters? Or might it be that your cover letters don’t describe the professional match between you and the given business? Or, worst of all, are you sending out the same cover letter to every single position and posting? Keep reading to make sure that you’re sending out the strongest cover letters possible. 

Below we present the four common mistakes you might just find in your cover letter (and tell you how to fix them).


4 klasssiske fejl i ansøgning, 4 common mistakes in your cover letter



4. You have a few errors here and there

It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, we’re a bit quick when writing or sometimes we just need to get it done before the rest of the day can begin. On these days, it’s easy to forget to proofread your cover letter before sending it off. Sadly, this mistake could cost you. Obviously, you won’t get dismissed based on one single tiny error. But if you have a few of them, your cover letter can easily appear haphazard and lazy. And this, this could mean getting thrown into the “no” pile. So make sure to always proofread your cover letter. If you have the time, it’s a good idea to ask a friend to give it a once over as well – maybe they’ll pick up a thing or two you missed. 


3. Layout – it’s not there

The way in which you decide to design your cover letter is often an undervalued factor. It’s pivotal that your cover letter portrays a sense of organization and ease. It should be easy to read for the reader. It should be inviting and almost impossible not to skim when looking at it. As such, you must build an accommodating text. Don’t just have an entire page of text. Rather, divide your text into manageable and relevant paragraphs

Furthermore, the layout of your content is also important. Just as with your resume, you have to prioritize. Prioritize the first and upper part of your cover letter, making space for the most important information. This is the part where you have the readers’ full attention. Now, you have to make sure you can keep their attention, making sure they read the entire cover letter. Therefore, use the first part of your cover letter to express motivation and the professional match. Describe and showcase exactly how you, as a candidate, can solve the given business’ cases and tasks. Here you need to use examples from previous experiences. 

If you need a guide or a template for a great cover letter, then check out our guide here. In this example, it’s easy to see exactly how a cover letter should be designed in terms of paragraphing.


2. You are not expressing motivation

According to Ballisager Consulting Firm, 51% of businesses admit that one of the biggest mistakes in cover letters is a lack of motivation. Oftentimes, the motivational factor is nowhere to be found in the cover letters these businesses receive. 

If your cover letter is just a long speech about you as a person and your experiences and competencies, well, then it probably lacks the motivational factor. You need to make it clear exactly what your motivation is in applying for this position. Exactly what it is that makes this position and this particular firm exciting to you. It might be some particular tasks? Give them examples of why you enjoy these particular types of tasks. Even if you’re not applying for the dream job, there must be a reason for you choosing exactly this position or this business. Describe this reason for them. Show your motivation. 

They already have your resume. And your resume shows an overview of your previous experience. So don’t waste your cover letter on just repeating the same information. Your cover letter should complement your resume. Use it to show exactly what you can bring to the table. 


1. You send out a standardized cover letter

I can’t stress this enough. You cannot just send out a standardized cover letter to everyone. You need to adapt your cover letter to every single position and business. It is pivotal that you are able to show exactly how you professionally will fit into the given position or business. This is where it all goes wrong. 

As an applicant, it is your job to show the business how and why you are the ideal candidate for them. For them, specifically. Not how you’re the ideal candidate for every single job and business in the world. But how you will fit into this particular business and position that requires certain things. Throw away anything generic and showcase your specific experiences, competencies and examples. 

The description of the professional match between you and the given business should be almost awkwardly clear. Do not hesitate to spell it out. Write “My match with this particular position as senior analyst is” and then showcase 3 great points. For example “I have a lot of knowledge and experience with large and medium-sized corporations through my student job at Danske Bank; I speak and write fluent English, ensuring a fit in an international setting; and I work well with Excel and PowerPoint.” Here, it’s super important that you chose skills and experiences that fit the particular position. 

Most of us are able to work in Excel and PowerPoint, so you need to showcase the results of your work within these programs. This might be “I have had the responsibility of making business material containing all relevant information about a given business’ economy and business plan which was used in meetings with investors.” 


Bonus mistake: Your resume is bad

It’s important to note that no matter how great a cover letter you have, your cover letter will never get read if you don’t have a great resume. Your resume is the very first thing they look at and it should motivate them to look further into you – to read your cover letter. Therefore, you need to ensure that you have a great resume. Check here to see whether your resume features any of the 6 most common mistakes. For resume templates, look at our other post here