15 common resume and cover letter mistakes

Are you applying for jobs? Avoid these common resume and cover letter mistakes to increase your chances of getting invited for an interview. 

When you’re in the middle of your job search, you’re sending out cover letters and resumes all day. You hope that you hear back from them, which doesn’t always happen. 

When you don’t hear back, it doesn’t mean that you are no good fit for the position. There are small errors that can influence the opinion of the hiring manager. 

Here are common resume cover letter mistakes that you have to avoid and increase your chances of getting an invite for an interview. 

Common resume and cover letter mistakes

1. Grammar errors

One of the most common resume and cover letter mistakes are grammar mistakes and typos. Mistakes can happen, and it’s easy to look over them. Check your spelling and grammar before anything else! 

2. Including too many details

The unwritten rule is that you should write a short cover letter that doesn’t go over one page. Unless you’re applying for a high-level management position, there is no reason to go over that one page. For resumes, the rule of thumb is two pages as a maximum.

You want to get the attention of the hiring manager and want to give them just enough information that they want to invite you over for an interview. Don’t overdo it. 

3. Exclude important information

While it is important not to include too many details, don’t exclude relevant information. If you have relevant skills or accomplishments that you want to go into, name them. 

You can decrease the amount of space you use by rewriting and shortening your sentences. Try to get the most important information out on paper without missing any of the main points. 

4. Repeating everything that is on your resume

Do you want to send a harder-to-read cover letter? Repeat everything that is already on your resume. 

The job of the cover letter is to add to the information that is in the resume. Use your cover letter to go into the accomplishments and strengths that you mention in your resume.

5. Talking about why you want a new job

If you’re applying for a new job, explaining the current position you’re in doesn’t necessarily help. You want to tell them what you add to the company with specific examples, instead of only talking about what it would mean for you. 

6. Don’t highlight your skills

While a resume and cover letter aren’t to brag about your accomplishments, they must know what your skills and strengths are. You want to highlight the skills that are most relevant to the open position. Ideally, you want to highlight some of the qualifications that are in the job description. 

When you have written down your relevant skills, name them in your resume. Think of some accomplishments that highlight those skills, and go into more details in your cover letter. 

7. Using the same format over and over

When you use the same resume and cover letter no matter the job you apply to, what you send out may become irrelevant. Even if you use a template, make sure to highlight content that you want to adjust. Tailor everything from the opening paragraph to the accomplishment that you are highlighting.  

You should specify in your cover letter why you want to apply for that particular job. It will be different for every application letter that you send out. Plus, adjusting your skills in your resume for the specific position is highly recommended. 

8. Don’t research the company

If you are writing a cover letter to a specific position and company, know what their values are and what they want in a candidate. You want to know what the company is looking for so you can speak to the hiring manager. 

If you want to be thorough, you can also search for the company’s mission and vision and adjust your letter to that. Make clear to them that you’re a good fit for the position. 

9. Don’t use keywords

Keywords in your resume or cover letter are crucial. If your job application is handled digitally, chances are that there is software in place that makes a preselection of the most relevant resumes and cover letters based on keywords.  

If you find it challenging to think about relevant keywords, check out the job description, and pick a couple of skills that are listed there. 

10. Talking about compensation

It is a big cover letter mistake to start to talk about salary, compensation, or paid time off in your cover letter. Only if the job listing asks specifically about your salary, you can talk about it. 

If you start to talk about compensation right away, the company may think that you’re only applying to the job for the money. While pay is a relevant part of the total job package, you have plenty of opportunities to negotiate your salary at a later stage. 

11. Using the incorrect tone

Finding the correct tone in a resume and cover letter can be challenging.

You want to be original, professional, and show your added value. Be sure to balance between a professional and casual tone and sprinkle a bit of personality in the cover letter. 

12. Don’t pay attention to your email address 

If you are sending your cover letter, make sure that you have a professional email address.

Stick to your first and last name if possible, as it will be hard to impress a recruiter with a resume and cover letter from “doglover95”. 

13. Don’t proofread before you send

Not proofreading your resume and cover letter or sending it to someone else to check is a big mistake. There can be all different kinds of errors left, including incomplete sentences or outdated information.

14. Not pay attention to the format

When you’re sending your cover letter and CV, make sure you pay attention to the format. You want to send it in PDF format if possible so that you know the formatting is how you intended it. 

If it is not possible to attach a PDF file to your job application, make sure that you check the formatting before you send the email to the hiring manager. A resume and cover letter are your first impression when applying for a job, make sure it is formatted correctly.

15. Skipping the cover letter altogether

Except when it is clearly stated in the job application that a cover letter is not necessary, it is important to include one.

A cover letter allows you to highlight the things that are relevant for the job and go into detail about why they should hire you. 

By not including a cover letter, your application may end up on the rejection pile without they even looked at your resume. 

Read more about how to write a good cover letter and get some good resume examples here