10 Common Cover Letter Bloopers to Avoid

10 Cover Letter Bloopers to AvoidHaving a polished and impressive CV isn’t enough to draw a possible employer’s attention. In fact, your first impression is actually made through your Cover Letter. It is your Cover Letter
that will convince the recruiter whether or not to even read your
CV and consider you for a job.

To make sure that your CV gets the attention it deserves, and
you get the job you want, avoid any of these Cover Letter mistakes…

Blooper #1: Not including a Cover Letter

Omitting a Cover Letter is a bad idea. Not only do you miss out on a great opportunity to promote yourself as the best candidate to a possible employer, but don’t give your CV a fair chance of being considered. A lot of recruiters are pressed for time, and rely on Cover Letters to spot potential talent and as the deciding factor for reading a CV. So just to get spotted and convince a recruiter to take a glance at your CV, write a Cover Letter!

Blooper #2: Sending a Cover Letter as an email attachment

Again, recruiters are busy people receiving many CV’s daily, so they are likely to just brush past applicants that add more to their workload unnecessarily. Make their job easier, and grab their attention instantly by inserting your Cover Letter in the body of your email rather than sending it as an attachment.

Blooper #3: Sending the same Cover Letter for every job

Recruiters are not stupid, they notice this, and can perceive you as a somewhat lazy job seeker (the last thing you want when applying for your dream job). Also, your Cover Letter is an opportunity to market yourself as the right person for a specific job, lining up your skills and experience with what’s required for the job advertised. Sending the same Cover Letter for every job will very likely not make you stand out from the crowd or earn you a call for an interview.

Blooper #4: Not personalising your message

Starting off your Cover Letter with “Dear Sir/Madam”, is only acceptable when the job advertiser didn’t include his or her name in the advert. Always look for a name in the job advert to address your Cover Letter to and grab the recruiter’s attention with, for example “Dear Francois” or “For the attention of: Thembi Mohono”. Also, if possible, avoid using “Mr”, “Mrs” or “Ms” to spare yourself the embarrassment of getting the recruiter’s sex or marital status wrong.

Blooper #5: Writing a novel of a Cover Letter

Recruiters simply don’t have time to sit and read lengthy Cover Letters. They have many to get through, so if yours is telling them your whole life story, they will probably lose interest quickly and move on to doing more important work, or worse, reading another job seeker’s Cover Letter… Make sure you keep your Cover Letter short, to the point and easy to read.

Blooper #6: Writing boring copy that doesn’t grab attention

Read your Cover Letter to a friend or family member… Pay attention to their behaviour. Are they yawning? Staring blankly? Making excuses to leave the room? All jokes aside, make sure your Cover Letter grabs and holds the attention of a recruiter, with “punchy”, colourful copy that will make you look very good and seem like the ultimate person to hire for the job. Pay special attention to your introductory paragraph and closing sentence.

Blooper #7: Not explaining why you are the best candidate for the job

You know that you are the right person for the job, but the recruiter doesn’t. Well, not yet… Give them the reasons why you are the one they’ve been looking for. Use the original job advert to help you with this. Most job adverts include job requirements. Explain in your Cover Letter how you meet each of these requirements and are well able to do the job.

Blooper #8: Trying to be funny

Yes, your Cover Letter copy should be interesting and attention grabbling, but avoid taking this to the extreme. It can backfire. People’s sense of humour differ, and you risk offending or confusing the recruiter by “trying” to be funny in your Cover Letter. Keep it light, yet serious.

Blooper #9: Omitting your contact details

It might sound like such an obvious thing, but many job seekers are so focussed on getting the Cover Letter right, that they forget to include their contact details. Make sure your contact details are clearly visible at the end of your Cover Letter and correct so that a recruiter can contact you immediately after you’ve convinced them that you are the person for the job!

Blooper #10: Not proofreading your Cover Letter

Don’t undo all your hard work in writing the perfect Cover Letter by neglecting to check for typing, spelling or grammar errors after you’re done. These types of errors can reflect negatively on you as a job seeker and jeopardise your chances of being called in for an interview. Make the effort and check and re-check your Cover Letter for any mistakes, and to make doubly sure, get a friend or family member to also proofread it for you.

Now that you know how important your Cover Letter is for being recruited for your dream job, make sure you Login to your Job Seeker account and write a good and attention-grabbing one before applying.

If you enjoyed this post about common cover letter bloopers, feel free to also check out the Job Mail blog for more Useful Tips.

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Digital Copy Editor, PR and digital marketer at Junk Mail Publishing

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28 Responses

  1. Valvy Nagiah says:

    I wish to thank the Job Mail team for the fantastic tips on a cover letter. I will most definitely use them in my future job applications. Thanks

  2. Makhosazana says:

    Hi I’m looking a job nd I have a certificate Hiv @Aids ,Home Based care ,Social Auxilliary work also certificate

    • Job Mailer says:

      Hi Makhosazana – Thanks for your feedback. If you have not registered your CV on Job Mail yet, visit https://www.jobmail.co.za/register-your-profile-cv (via a PC) Make sure that your CV on Job Mail is 100% complete, then you’ll have a much better chance of recruiters finding you. Look for Jobs that you need at http//www.jobmail.co.za/mobile/search (on your cell phone) or https://www.jobmail.co.za/ (on your PC) and apply for them. Search for “Receptionist”, “Safety Officer”, “Chef”, “Internship”, “Learnership” (or any other keyword) to find relevant jobs on Job Mail. If you don’t have experience and you are struggling to find a job in your field, check out the Part Time / Temp category on Job Mail for jobs that you can do while you are finding the job that you need. You can filter your job search via region and category on the Job Mail website / mobile site as well. Good luck with finding the jobs you need! Be Pro-Active! If you’ve applied for a position and no one contacts you back, phone the employer / recruiter and inquire about the status of your application. If you are struggling with the CV upload, please contact our Webmaster via jobmaster@jobmail.co.za – please note that we do not accept CVs via e-mail.

  3. Mpho Sobane says:

    Thank you for the tips, I always thought that recruiters will find my contacts on my CV, not including them on my cover letter. Now I know that I should include them on my cover letter.

    Thank a lot
    Mpho

  4. innocent says:

    this was really an eye opener, i omitted cover letters most of the time, now i see why i didn’t get response from employers.

    innocent Mlotsa

  5. Okesola Grace says:

    Thanks for putting me through,but still yet I don’t get replies after all these.I have my CV (5+years experience) and my cover letters exactly the way you’ve explained.All i wanted is the work of a PA/clerk/receptionist,but never got a call for any of it,so please if you can help.I will be so glad thanks

    • Henno Kruger says:

      You have to follow up with recruiters when you apply for positions Okesola. Some recruiters get up to 700 applications daily. They might not spot your application immediately. Hope you find the job that you need soon!

  6. thanx a lot for the tip guys. I always send 1 cover leter to every recruiter now i c why it’s not succeding. Now i will do better. I will stop being a lazy job seeker.

    Thanx a lot gus u really helps.

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Our pleasure Khomotso 🙂 Good luck with your job hunting journey ahead!

      • Nozipho says:

        Thanks for putting me through,and thanks for the advice ,even thou I don’t get replies after all these.I have my CV (4+years experience) and my cover letters exactly the way you’ve explained.or can you please show me maybe I write my cover later wrong ,the positions that I applied for (are, PA/clerk/receptionist,but never got a call for any of it,so please if you can help.I will be so glad thanks

  7. Vincent says:

    I would like to know the format in which the cover letters should be in before applying for a job on the Jobmail website.

    When I just type as normal, making paragraphs using the enter key, the paragraphs are not made once sent.

    Shouldn’t there be something like a [p] at the beginning of a paragraph and a [/p] at the end?

    Please will somebody assist me with this?

  8. Neliswa says:

    I would to know how to write a cover latter that can be good so I can easly be considered for a job

  9. catherine says:

    How must I write a covering letter as a Safety Officer,I need your help please

  10. Andrew says:

    This has been most helpful. Please will you keep on posting these tips. From now on I will make sure that I will follow these most helpful tips.

  11. Nomandla Mhlongo says:

    I join this team as a job hunter but they are not responding to my application please help even the job that does not need experience

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Hi Nomandla – You should be following up with recruiters once you have applied for a position. Make sure that you only apply for positions that you qualify / have the necessary experience for to increase the chances of being called for an interview. If you don’t get feedback from a recruiter within 14 days, move on to the next position.

  12. mavie says:

    Thanx for your guidline it ill help me a lot to write a cover letter. Keep doing a better work and enjoy the rest of the day love you all. Mavie

  13. Henno Kruger says:

    Hi Johannes – We don’t have an example of this. Follow the guidelines and construct your own letter. Also remember that Google is your friend 🙂

  14. pakamisa says:

    Hello Admin. Why is it so hard to find jobs for business management at entry level? Something is seriously wrong.

    • Henno Kruger says:

      Unfortunately experience will be required for this field. Try to find a part time position where you gain some management experience.

  15. Sakkie says:

    Thank You for advice, I already made errors on my CV cover letter, need to rectified it.

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