As soon as you have overcome the first big hurdle and brought your CV to the fore, the job application task goes straight on: The application letter needs a revamp — or even needs to be revised from the ground up. But more than 50% of cover letters contain errors. Our guide shows how to avoid mistakes in your cover letter.
Avoid mistakes in your cover letter: the 5 common errors
1. Spelling and grammar
It is hard to believe, but in 56% of all application documents – and thus in more than one in two – there are spelling mistakes. Forgotten letters in words, common typos and grammatically incomplete sentences are an absolute NoGo for most personnel department staff looking at cover letters. It is best to use the four-eyes principle and have your writing read by somebody else when you have finished it to avoid mistakes in your cover letter.
2. Introductory phrases
A staffer who screens several and sometimes hundreds of application documents a day can no longer read the typical introductory sentences without cringing.
Example: “Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great interest that I have read your vacancy notice in the New York Times of 12 August and would therefore like to apply to you herewith.”
Not only are the first three lines wasted, but the HR person is also bored. It is better if you stand out from the crowd right at the beginning and make sure that you stay in the head of the selector. The choice lies in making it clear in the first moment that you are the perfect person for the vacancy thanks to the experience already gained — without appearing arrogant.
3. Starting with the past
Recently read: Imagine if an applicant writes a letter of motivation for a job as a sports and fitness trainer. The applicant began his writing as follows:
Example: “Already in primary school I always liked to play football on the pausenhof, so I would like to apply to you as the new coach for xy.”
This is, of course, very nice, but not exactly a way forward for the HR manager. One should always try to start with the most up-to-date position and to coin it on the job advertisement, for example as follows:
“In addition to my sports management studies, I regularly train the C-Youth in the club xy and…”
4. Writing a mass letter
We keep finding that one of the most common reasons not to be invited to the job interview stage fails at this point. The simple copy-paste not only produces a very superficial cover letter, which does not even address the company, but also unfavorable errors. This means that the contact person or address is exchanged incorrectly. The cover letter also addresses the wrong companies. The following applies: Quality instead of quantity: Before you send out 50 cover letters quickly, you should focus on 5 cover letters and deal intensively and separately with each job advertisement.
5. Arrogant self-assessment
It is said that one should present oneself in the best light in the cover letter and tell a lot about one’s skills and abilities. What many underestimate, however, is the picture that is conveyed to the outside world when the applicant writes only from the first-person perspective.
Example 1: “I can work perfectly as a team and am extremely ambitious.”
Example 2: “My above-average commitment ensures always excellent results at no less than all levels.”
It is okay to want to set yourself off from the competition with such sentences. However, everyone now claims that he is “extremely resilient” and “above average motivated.” It is therefore a valuable tip to prove these properties directly.
Example 1: “At the event xy with 500 participants, I was able to successfully demonstrate my orgainsation talent.”
Example 2: “Mrs. Müller from Maier will be happy to confirm my organizational talent and my negotiating skills.”
Before you attach the letter of motivation to your application, you should review these five tips and check them off systematically. If you are sure of your abilities and suitability, nothing stands in the way of an invitation to the interview.