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cover letter mistakes

8 Cover Letter Pitfalls to Avoid

Your cover letter serves as your initial introduction to a potential employer. It’s an opportunity to make a strong impression and demonstrate why you are well-suited for the position. Crafting this introductory letter requires careful consideration, particularly when it comes to the language you use.

Below, we’ve listed eight words and phrases that are best avoided in your cover letter and included some helpful suggestions for alternative wording that will strengthen your application.

‘I believe’

When you lead with “I believe,” it sounds like just your opinion. Replace it with assertive, fact-based statements. For example, instead of “I believe I’m a strong communicator,” say, “I led a team project that improved our client satisfaction scores by 20%.” This switch from belief to proof shows confidence and provides solid evidence of your skills. For more inspiration, check out our Resume Action Verbs article.

To whom it may concern

Welcome to the 21st century! Using “To whom it may concern” is outdated and impersonal. If you can’t find a specific name, opt for a title like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Recruitment Manager.” This modern touch shows you’ve done your homework and are genuinely interested in the role.

‘Salary’

Mentioning salary right off the bat is a rookie mistake. It limits your negotiating power. Focus on your skills and fit for the role instead. Save salary discussions for the interview when you have more context. This approach demonstrates that your primary interest is the opportunity, not just the paycheck.

‘Dependable’

Saying you’re dependable is like saying you breathe air – it’s expected. Instead, highlight specific skills relevant to the job. If teamwork is crucial, share a success story from a collaborative project. For instance, “Coordinated a cross-departmental initiative that reduced product development time by 25%” showcases reliability through action.

‘Self-starter’

“Self-starter” is so overused it’s invisible. Show your initiative with examples. Did you launch a project or improve a process? Highlight the impact. For example, “Initiated a customer feedback program that increased satisfaction rates by 15%” demonstrates your drive.

‘Incredible’

Confidence is good, but “incredible” can sound arrogant. Let your results do the talking. Instead of “I am an incredible salesperson,” quantify your achievements: “I increased sales by 30% in my first year.” Numbers and specifics speak louder than superlatives.

‘Dynamic’

“Dynamic” is too vague. Prove your adaptability with concrete examples. Detail a time you navigated change or learned a new skill quickly. For instance, “Adapted to a new software platform, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity within three months” shows dynamism through action.

‘People person’

Every job involves people. This phrase doesn’t stand out. Instead, provide an example of effective teamwork. For example, “Organized weekly team meetings to enhance collaboration, resulting in a 15% increase in project efficiency.” This approach memorably highlights your interpersonal skills.

Conclusion

Your cover letter is your chance to shine. Ditch the clichés and vague terms and replace them with concrete examples of your skills and achievements. Doing so will make a lasting impression and set you apart from the competition.

Our Final Tips

  • Spelling and Vocabulary: Make sure to use Australian English spelling and vocabulary. For example, use “organise” instead of “organize,” “favour” instead of “favor,” and “programmes” instead of “programs.” Familiarize yourself with common Australian terms and idioms.
  • Global Perspective: Emphasize how your international experience can bring a unique perspective to the role. Mention any experience you have working with diverse teams or in multicultural environments.
  • Transferable Skills: Clearly articulate how your skills and experiences align with the job requirements and how they can benefit the company in an Australian context.
  • Research the Company: Tailor your cover letter to the specific company and role. Mentioning recent projects or company values shows genuine interest and knowledge.
  • Proofread: Ensure your cover letter is free of typos and grammatical errors. A polished letter reflects attention to detail.
  • Keep it Concise: Be detailed yet concise. Aim for one page highlighting the most relevant experiences and skills.
  • Show Enthusiasm: Convey your excitement for the role and the company. Employers want passionate candidates.
  • Include a Call to Action: End your cover letter with a call to action, such as expressing your hope for an interview or eagerness to discuss your application further.

For more tips, check out these resources:

Incorporate these strategies to make your cover letter a powerful tool in your job application process, helping you stand out in a crowded field.

Join the 482 Job Club

As a 482 Job Club Member, you’ll benefit from access to guides like this one (without the ads). You’ll also gain access to view and apply for the hundreds of jobs offering Visa sponsorship that have been curated by hand by the 482 jobs team.

We inspect every single job before sharing it on our website to ensure:

  1. The role is a role that qualifies for sponsorship
  2. The job being advertised truly offers visa sponsorship (ie, its not a match because it contains the text “Sponsorship not available for this role”
  3. It’s advertised by a trusted Australian employer or a well-respected, Australian-based recruitment company.

There are no fake jobs here on 482jobs.com. Let us take the hard work out of finding the latest Australian job opportunities for you for less than the price of a coffee, with new jobs added every weekday!

Click here to view our low-cost membership options.

What are your thoughts?

We’d love to hear your thoughts! What are some common cover letter mistakes you’ve encountered? Drop a comment below and share your experiences or any additional tips you have for writing a standout cover letter. Let’s start a conversation and help each other succeed!

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