16 Entry-Level Cover Letter Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published October 21, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Candidates can use cover letters as an opportunity to detail their competencies, discuss their greatest professional achievements and make important connections for potential employers. When writing a cover letter, there are various guidelines that candidates may need to consider to achieve these goals effectively. If you're an entry-level candidate applying for open positions, it may be helpful for you to review a few common cover letter mistakes so you can be aware of them when writing. In this article, we discuss why it's important to avoid these mistakes and outline 16 entry-level cover letter mistakes, with tips for overcoming them.
Related: Cover Letter Do's and Don'ts
Why is it important to avoid cover letter mistakes?
It's important to avoid cover letter mistakes so you can properly demonstrate your abilities as a prospective employee. By writing an error-free cover letter, you can show hiring committees that you're detail-oriented, organized and understand the value you can offer as a professional. With this, you may be able to increase your chances of soliciting a hiring manager's attention and securing an interview for a position that interests you.
Related: How Important Is a Cover Letter?
16 entry-level cover letter mistakes and how to overcome them
There are various mistakes entry-level candidates often make when writing their cover letters. Here are a few examples of these errors and tips for overcoming them during your own job search process:
1. Improper length
It's common for entry-level candidates to write cover letters that are either too long or short. When writing your cover letter, try to keep it succinct by limiting it between a half page to one page in length. From here, you can focus on using clear and direct language to describe your abilities.
Using overly complex phrasing to discuss your skills and work experience in a cover letter can make it less intelligible to hiring decision-makers. Therefore, try to overcome wordiness by keeping your verbiage straightforward and coherent. In addition, practice using shorter sentences that may be easier to read.
3. Lack of concrete examples
Entry-level candidates frequently forgo offering concrete examples of their past successes in their cover letters. Despite this, giving examples can help you provide evidence of your achievements and abilities. To avoid this mistake, consider including quantifiable data about your professional experiences to demonstrate how capable you are.
4. Extraneous college-related information
Since entry-level candidates often have a limited amount of experience, they may make the mistake of including extraneous information about their college education in their cover letters. Despite this, it's important to only provide details relevant to the job you're applying for. When discussing your college experiences, try to be selective and include information about your activities, responsibilities and leadership positions that show your ability to succeed in a professional environment rather than your GPA or the classes you took.
5. Uncertain language
It's common for entry-level candidates to use uncertain language when describing their abilities and what they can offer to potential employers. When writing, try to remember that cover letters can serve as an opportunity to sell yourself and your value as a professional. Use language that describes your abilities and how you plan to use the best of your skills to meet an employer's expectations.
6. Sensitive topics
Writing about sensitive topics, including personal matters like why you left your previous role or insecurities about your skill set, in your cover letter may be off-putting to hiring managers. Try to avoid any uncomfortable topics when preparing your letter. Instead, focus on highlighting information that applies to your candidacy, like your past achievements and competencies.
Entry-level candidates may make the mistake of simply repeating the information from their resumes in their cover letters. It's common for hiring managers to read your resume prior to your cover letter, so try to use your cover letter as an additional opportunity to make valuable connections between your skills and an employer's requirements instead. This can help you better demonstrate why you're a strong fit for a role.
It's common for entry-level candidates to rely on trite phrases and idioms to describe their abilities as a candidate. This type of language rarely offers much value to hiring managers as they attempt to assess your skills. Try to be more specific with your language and offer tangible examples of how you've succeeded in the past.
Neglecting to proofread your cover letter may result in various grammatical mistakes or typos. These errors may suggest to a hiring manager that you're not detail-oriented or organized. Therefore, it may be beneficial for you to proofread your cover letter several times or have a trusted friend read over your work to ensure it's error free.
10. Unrelated information
As an entry-level candidate, you may have experience in different industries and roles unrelated to the job you're applying for. With this, it's important to overcome the impulse to include such information in your cover letter, as it likely isn't relevant. Instead, try to shift your focus by discussing skills you acquired through these experiences that you can apply to a new role.
11. Incorrect information
When applying to various open positions at once, entry-level candidates may make the mistake of including incorrect information about a company or role in their cover letter due to an inattentiveness to such details. Try to double-check items like the organization name, the name of the person you're writing to and the exact title of the job you're applying for. While this can make your writing process longer, it's worthwhile to include factual information and demonstrate your ability to be detail-oriented.
While some entry-level candidates face challenges with underselling themselves, others may attempt to oversell their abilities, which hiring managers might read as overconfidence. Try to be realistic about your abilities while discussing the value you can offer to an organization. This can help you maintain authenticity and allow hiring managers to evaluate your qualifications accurately.
13. Generic templates
It's common for entry-level candidates to use a generic cover letter template to apply to multiple jobs simultaneously. Despite this, it's typically more effective to tailor your cover letter to the exact specifications for each role and organization to which you apply. Through this, you can discuss the particular competencies you can offer that fulfill an employer's distinct requirements or help drive organizational goals forward.
It's important for candidates to express their interest in a position or excitement about working for a specific organization when writing a cover letter. With this, it's key that you're authentic when explaining why a role or organization appeals to you personally instead of being disingenuous with your enthusiasm. Hiring managers can recognize whether a candidate is being genuine, and doing so can give you a significant advantage.
Entry-level candidates may attempt to use overly formal language when writing their cover letters to demonstrate sophistication and intelligence. While using strong vocabulary and grammatical correctness in your writing can help you be more clear and direct with your wording, formalities are typically unnecessary and can date you. For instance, when writing a salutation at the beginning of your cover letter, forgo titles like "sir" or "madam" and instead use a hiring manager's actual name or professional title.
16. Lack of demonstrated interest
As mentioned above, expressing your interest in a role or organization is key when writing your cover letter. Entry-level candidates commonly forget to demonstrate their enthusiasm for a role, which may indicate a lack of understanding about a role or what an organization does. Try to discuss exactly why a position interests you and what type of work you're excited to perform if you're chosen to join an organization.
Explore more articles
- Postal Inspector Skills: Definition and Tips
- Illustrator Resume: A Writing Guide With Template and Example
- How To Write an Online Marketing Cover Letter in 5 Steps
- How To Write a Fabricator Resume (With Template and Example)
- How To Write a Forestry Technician Resume With 5 Steps
- How To Write a Bridal Consultant Resume (With Template and Examples)
- Creative Ideas To Help Your Resume Stand Out From the Crowd
- Tips for Making an Executive's Resume
- How To Write an Economics Resume (With Template and Example)
- How To Write a Licensing Specialist Resume (Plus Template and Examples)
- Underwriter Assistant Resume: Template and Example
- How To Write a Media CV in 5 Steps (Plus Template and Example)