5 tips to avoid your cover letter landing in the trash bin

5 tips to avoid your cover letter landing in the trash bin

Anyone who has ever written a cover letter knows that it is a difficult thing to write. The times when you were looking for a job and a one-size-fits-all cover letter was acceptable are long gone. Employers and recruiters have less time, and competition has become even tougher due to the crisis.

In such times having a winning cover letter is a must, otherwise it will cost you the job before you have even been considered.

After hours, days spent on the perfect cover letter, it is finally ready to be sent. Two or three weeks pass by and nothing happens. Silence. So what has happened?

Your cover letter and CV have probably landed in the trash bin of your recruiter / employer. This happens to even the very best candidates.

Scanning, not reading

I fully understand this "phenomenon" as I once ran a recruitment process myself.

After having published a job ad, I was overwhelmed by the number of reactions. I had received 40+ applications for a single position. Just imagine a recruiter who has a portfolio of many different positions, and how many resumes he / she receives per day!

I could choose to read all the cover letters and CVs carefully, but did I do it? No. With so many other activities on my mind I simply did not have the time, so I quickly scanned them. The same is happening among other employers and recruiters because they too have to be efficient with their time.

Common mistakes

The fact is that I only really read those which caught my attention from the very first moment. Based on this experience I have made a short list of the most common mistakes that can cost you a job:

 Being too general

Using standard expressions that 90% of other candidates are using as well. Some examples: "I am a true professional, I can work well in a team as well as by myself. I am result-oriented and flexible at the same time."

These sentences did not help me in any way to understand if the person applying is the one that I need.

Tip: Scan your cover letter carefully for all these general descriptions and get rid of them now!

 Talking too much about yourself

This is a tricky one. You would think that, because you need to sell yourself you therefore need to write about your talents and experiences.

It is true, however you MUST also show to the recruiter / employer how you are going to help him to solve his problem.

Tip: Mention your strengths and experience but always make clear how it is relevant to the job you are applying for.

 Not using relevant examples

The best way to convince the employer that you can do the job you are applying for is to describe your experience and talents by using relevant examples of the similar things you have done in the past.

Tip: Use examples and support them with facts, figures and achievements.

 Not spending enough time researching the company you are applying to

Again, here you need to show clearly to the employer that you KNOW how you will be able help. In order to do that you must know what the company is all about.

Tip: Make it clear to the employer that you have invested time to investigate the company.

 Not checking for the spelling and grammar mistakes

It is such a pity when your cover letter is not taken seriously because of a couple of silly typos.

Tip: Ask your partner, friend or a third party to check it for you. Leave it for a day or two and then read it one final time with fresh eyes before sending.

Start today!

Learning to write a "winning" cover letter is a skill that you can learn too. Start by applying the above-mentioned tips and leave me a comment below if you need any help!


Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

Read more



Leave a comment