For Your Cover Letter to Do Its Job Don’t Commit These Faux Pas

Not including a cover letter is lazy-employers don’t hire lazy. ( I certainly don’t.)

Regardless of how you apply for a job, whether through a referral or online, you must show how your skills, experiences, and personality set you apart from other applicants. It’s for this reason, you should always include a cover letter.

Including a well-written cover letter tailored to the job, and addressed to the hiring manager, offers several competitive advantages:

  • It shows your enthusiasm and that you researched the job requirements and the company. (You’re not lazy.)
  • You’re addressing the hiring manager directly and therefore bringing your relevant skills and experiences directly to their attention.
  • You’re selling how you can add value to the company.
  • Your personality is conveyed to the hiring manager.
  • Your cover letter shows off your writing skills. (Employers value above-average writing skills.)

Your cover letter has one job; to get the reader to read your resume. ( It’s your resume’s job to get you an interview.) Imagine how much more likely you’d get an interview invite if you applied for jobs with a great cover letter and a resume that WOWs. Therefore, you don’t want to make the following mistakes that’ll hinder your cover letter from doing its job.

To ensure your cover letter is read, don’t send it as an attachment. Instead, write it within the email body. When the recipient opens your email, your cover letter will be immediately visible, increasing the likelihood that they’ll read it.

Cover letters should be concise. Only offer details directly relevant to the job or that illustrate you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for.

When I’m looking for a sales-oriented call center agent, I’m not looking for someone who’s been providing “world-class” customer service or who’s, in their opinion, “detail-oriented.” These things don’t matter in terms of reaching sales goals. A person who knows how to ask prospect discovery questions to uncover their wants and needs and then offer them the appropriate product or service is whom I’m looking for. I’ll lose interest if someone goes on and on about their customer service skills. I want them to tell me about the biggest sale they ever made, along with their passion and methodology ( e.g., discovery questions they usually ask) for making sales.

Hiring managers aren’t responsible for connecting the dots regarding why you’re a great fit for the position or how your skills are transferrable. Connect the dots in your cover letter. “Having sold life insurance for the past 15 years, I’m comfortable selling an intangible product, and therefore, I don’t anticipate not being successful selling registered RESPs.” ( Registered Education Savings Plan)

Think about what the reader of your cover letter would like to see and what’ll convince them you’re worth interviewing. Sentences like, “I see you need someone who’s available to work nights and weekends. I enjoy working these hours and I’m available to do so,” or, “Along with my resume, I’ve attached several samples of my writing.” goes a long way.

The most common application mistake I see is not following instructions. Based on my experience I’d estimate 7 out of 10 applicants fail to address every stipulation listed in a job posting, which indicates an inability, or unwillingness, to follow instructions. Name an employer who’d hire someone who can’t follow instructions.

Be sure to read the job posting in its entirety! It’s common for employers to ask candidates to submit examples of their work or portfolio, link to their LinkedIn profile, their availability, a video, or their salary requirements. In your cover letter, include anything you’ve been asked to include or mention that it’s attached ( e.g., portfolio, writing sample, video, certificates). Failure to follow instructions is a sure way to get rejected.

“Thank you for taking the time to review my resume. I look forward to hearing from you,” which shows a lack of creativity and hustle. ( Name an employer who dislikes employees who hustle.)

Conclude your cover letter with something like, “I look forward to discussing what I can bring to the Social Media Manager role at Pendant Publishing. I’ll call you Thursday morning to schedule a time/date for us to meet.” This shows initiative, that you want the job and aren’t afraid to go after what you want. ( Be sure to make the call.)

I once received a cover letter that closed with, “Call today, don’t delay.” The closing was aggressive, which I tend to gravitate towards. It grabbed my attention. Additionally, her cover letter outlined everything she could bring to the table as an employee. Her boldness impressed me, so I called her.


Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at

Originally published at on July 8, 2022.



I write as if I care about the reader’s experience. My words slam into perceptions of reality. I observe. I think. I write. My trying = “ballsy” writing.

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Nick Kossovan

Nick Kossovan

I write as if I care about the reader’s experience. My words slam into perceptions of reality. I observe. I think. I write. My trying = “ballsy” writing.