8 cover letter myths that can cost you a job offer

There are two kinds of job applicants: 

  1. Those who are terrified by the mere thought of writing a cover letter.
  2. Those who think that this is just a procedural piece of text that hiring managers do not read.

Both of these job applicants are wrong. The cover letter is important, and it’s not that difficult to write. You just need to follow the right tips and overcome the common cover letter myths that could be costing you a job offer.


cover letter tips


Here are the most common myths to overcome:

Myth 1: It’s OK to skip the cover letter; no one reads it, anyway

Fact: This is a delusion. If the job description requires a cover letter, then you absolutely need to send it. Otherwise, you won’t be considered as a candidate who provided complete documentation. 

If the job description specifically says to only send a resume or CV, then skip the cover letter. If it doesn’t mention anything about the cover letter, send one anyway. 

There are plenty of reasons why you need a cover letter. First of all, employers expect it. It conveys your intentions for career progress and the way this particular job fits into your plans. It can also show why you are interested in their organization and how well you would fit into their office culture. So yes; the cover letter is important and many hiring managers actually read it. 


Myth 2: “Dear Hiring Manager” is a good way to start

Fact: It shows a lack of effort. Hiring managers expect you to do the research about their organization before you submit the application. This research should include finding out who you’re addressing. Use their name and (when possible) gender so that you can address them properly. For example, "Dear Janice", or "Dear Ms. Palmer".

If you absolutely cannot find the name of the hiring manager, then yes; use "Dear Hiring Manager". However, know that this is not the best way to start.


Myth 3: It’s OK to use a template

Fact: Employers expects a personalized cover letter. A generic template gives you zero chance of meeting that requirement. 

Job applicants like using cover letter templates because they make writing simple. The template tells you what information to include and even complete phrases to use. So easy! However, hiring managers have seen the same exact template countless times before. If you use the same templates, it’s hard to get noticed. 

Write an entirely unique cover letter that’s specifically aimed at this position. 


Myth 4: The cover letter is a summary of your resume

Fact: No one wants to read the same information twice. The cover letter is a completely different format than the resume. Its essence should be different, too.

The cover letter should add context to your resume. It should emphasize your strengths and show how you’re different from candidates with similar qualifications. In the simplest explanation possible, it should show your character. The resume doesn’t do that.


Myth 5: You can get attention if you send the letter by courier

Fact: In most situations, that’s just a silly thing to do. You’ll waste a lot of money and give the wrong impression. Snail mail also doesn’t typically work well because it usually doesn't reach the hiring manager directly. Rather, it gets filtered through office workers, so the hiring manager won’t even know how that you mailed the cover letter.

If you want to be different than other candidates in the way you submit the cover letter, fax it to the recipient. 


Myth 6: You just send the letter and wait for the reaction

Fact: You may have snagged the employer’s attention ... at first. If, however, another qualified applicant reaches out after you have sent your resume and cover letter, they may steal the attention from you. 

The solution: Follow up by phone. Don't ask people if they received your materials. They are busy people and may get annoyed at having to stop what they are doing to look up your information. Instead, say, "I've applied as instructed, but am so eager to be considered for the position, I wanted to reach out to you directly to express my interest since I'm such a strong match for the job."


Myth 7: The cover letter must tell your salary expectation

Fact: No, no, no! Unless the job posting specifically requires it, don't include it!  A cover letter that includes salary history and expectations can easily get you eliminated. If you bid too high, the hiring manager will reject you. If you bid too low, they will see you as a person without the necessary confidence and knowledge for the industry.  

It’s better to save the salary talk for the interview. Then, you’ll be having a two-way conversation with the employer where you can show your self-confidence and flexibility regarding the issue.


Myth 8: The cover letter gives you space to talk about your personal life

Fact: No one cares about your life outside of work. When I say that the cover letter should convey your personality, I don’t mean that you should write about your kids, favorite TV shows, or the way you spend your weekends (unless it directly relates to the job description).

Instead let your cover letter show how the employer will benefit from hiring you in as professional and focused way as possible.

The bottom line: The cover letter is not that difficult to write if you overcome the myths that could be keeping you from the job. 


Guest blog by Micheal Gilmore. Thanks, Micheal! -- Kathy

Micheal Gilmore is an entrepreneur and passionate career advisor at resume writing service Resumes Planet

His mission is helping people achieve perfection in everything they do. When he fulfills his mission, Micheal gains, as his life is fully dedicated to people. 

Follow him on Twitter.


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Use power words
Including a cover letter when applying online

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