1. Failing to address the letter to the specific name of the recipient.
If you get the name of the recruiter or the department’s director, of course you should use their names. But if you don’t know the name of the person, then you should not make that up. Can you imagine the recruiter receiving a letter with a different name? “Dear Sir/Madam” is not as bad as some HR advisors portrait. You can also use the name of the company. For instance, if you are applying to a Google position you can write: “Dear Google team”.
2. Never say: “My skills and experience are an excellent fit for this position”
Why not? As long as you can validate this there is nothing bad in writing it in a cover letter. Although it sounds a little bit cliché, if the validation is supported by real and impressive achievement then the recruiter will forget about that. Don’t be afraid to start your cover letter like this. You have to start it somehow. Just make sure the content is valuable and useful to showcase your skills and professional fit to the company and position.
3. Overusing “I”
The cover letter is about you! It’s not about the company, it’s about you! So don’t be afraid to tell them about you. Use the “I” as much as you can because you have the leading role in this movie. They want to get to know you as much as they can, and at the end of reading your cover letter, recruiters will create your profile in their minds. Therefore give them enough information and the right information so they can build that image the better way possible.
4. Leaving the ball in the employer’s court.
You have done your part! You have applied to a position and now it’s their turn to get back to you. Of course we all know most of the times they don’t. You can follow-up on your application for sure but companies are not above you. Applicants have their value and they should not beg for a job. Companies don’t want that and you will not want that for you too. You need that job as much as that company needs you.