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2 Tiny Cover Letter Errors That Cause Big Trouble

Like job seekers, bloggers often reach out and network with each other. Just this week, The Pongo Blog received an inquiry from a potential guest blogger. Her message started with a nice compliment ("Your blog is so helpful!") and referred to one of our recent posts. So far, so good.

mass emailingUnfortunately, it soon became clear that this particular piece of flattery was less-than-sincere, as the next line said:  "I would love to have one of our bloggers write a guest post for [sitename]."

Wait, what? Who you callin’ [sitename]?

Clearly, the writer had meant to replace [sitename] with The Pongo Blog but forgot. That tiny mistake made it quite obvious that the writer was not, in fact, reaching out to us in particular, but was simply sending out a mass mailing of form letters to a variety of blogs, hoping someone would take the bait.

In this case it was kind of amusing and no big deal. But it would have been a very big deal in a job search. If that one, tiny mistake had been made in a cover letter, it could have spoiled a promising job opportunity.

Most employers these days have more qualified applicants than they can handle, so even a small mistake is reason enough to eliminate you. It’s about attention to detail. You’d be amazed how often job seekers make this kind of blunder in their cover letters. 

And while we’re on the subject, here are a couple others:

1. Wrong kind of greeting.

Ideally, you should address your cover letter by name to the hiring manager for the specific job.

However, if you have no way of finding out the name, use a greeting that’s professional and gender-neutral. That may seem obvious, but some people really do still think it’s proper to start a cover letter with "Dear Sir," or "Gentlemen." (Hint: It’s not, and hasn’t been for at least 30 years!)

Acceptable options include:

Dear Hiring Manager:

Good Afternoon,

(Or, if you're using a memo format...)
TO:  Hiring Manager for Marketing Associate Position, Job Reference 16754
 

2. Wrong company name or job title.

If you’re sending a cover letter and resume to Smith Company, the employer surely won’t be impressed if your letter says you’re excited about the opportunity at Jones Corp. Or perhaps you’re applying for a job as a Customer Service Specialist, but your cover letter says Customer Support Representative, because that was the job title at the last place you applied.

Some employers might not even notice a small mistake. And some might have a higher tolerance for errors and let you get away with a typo or two. But most expect nothing less than a 100% error-free cover letter and resume–especially if your job duties will involve written communications.

One of your most important resources in the job search is someone you can trust to proofread your career documents. It’s even more important to get some assistance if you have learning differences that affect your spelling, or if English is not your first language.
 
Do whatever it takes to ensure that every detail is spot-on so the employer can focus on what’s truly important—your qualifications and fit for the job.

Have you ever realized too late that you made a mistake in your cover letter?  What happened?  Share your experiences or comments below.

RELATED LINKS
5 Ways to Screw Up Your Cover Letter Greeting
I Sent My Resume with a Typo! Should I Send a New One?
Why You Should Never Copy a Sample Cover Letter

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