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The first impression matters a lot, especially when you’ve got only a couple of paragraphs to represent yourself as a potential employee worth hiring. Those few words can set the right tone and help shape your career just the way you had envisioned.

Some applicants think of cover letters as something redundant. But, in reality, they’re the first thing that a prospective employer looks at before thinking of hiring you.

Apart from adding on to your resume, your cover letter functions as an introduction of yourself. Before all of your credentials and certificates laid out in the CV are looked at.

One of the most difficult things about writing a cover letter is that you may invest a significant amount of time and effort to make it perfect without knowing whether anyone is going to read it or not.

Writing a cover letter that sets you apart from other candidates is all about planning and the right execution.

You’ve to make sure that it’s very well written, exhibits your skills, experience, and qualities, and doesn’t comprise any glaring error that may cost you the interview.

Remember that you may have an amazing resume. But if your cover letter fails to be up to the mark, it’s most likely that the employer won’t even look at your resume and move on to another application instead.

If that happens, your attention-grabbing and creative introduction, your relevant experience, etc. would go in vain.

Here we’ve jotted down 5 key things that you must double-check in your cover letter to impress the hiring manager.

1. The Hiring Manager’s Name

Working on a MAC

First of all, you need to cross-check whether you’re addressing the cover letter to the appropriate person or not.

Notice we mentioned ‘person’ here and not something like ‘Dear Hiring Manager’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To whom it may concern’.

It’s crucial to use the right person’s name at the top of your cover letter. This will let the employer know that you’ve spent at least some time researching the organization. When it comes to going through cover letters, the persons responsible usually include a hiring manager, an assistant editor, an internship coordinator or an HR representative.

Devoting some time to research the person’s name and addressing your cover letter to him/her gives it a personal touch that can pay off. It also proves that you haven’t sent a copy-paste cover letter that you send with every application.

If you found the vacancy in an advertisement, it would most likely have the name of the person whom you should address it to.

If not, it’s best to call the advertiser or organization and ask for the right person’s name. It’s also equally important that you don’t misspell the name you’re addressing your cover letter to.

Remember don’t directly use his/her first name. Instead mention ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ and then his/her last name.

2. Your Contact Information

Imagine this – your cover letter is absolutely error-free and quite impressive. And the organization wants to reach out to you for scheduling an interview but fails. Horrible, if you ask us.

Stop this right now from being even a possibility. Because if the employer faces difficulty while getting back to you, they’ll simply move on to the second appropriate person.

Put your name along with your contact details at the top of the cover letter.

Remember that you don’t need to provide your complete postal address but you’ve to include your phone number as well as your email. Make sure you’ll be available on the phone number you provide throughout general office hours, at least. It’s wise not to give your land-line number in case you’ve plans to stay outdoors.

Also, your email address needs to create a professional impression. Avoid providing your email address or any email address that sounds childish. You can always create a professional email address with a free email provider in case you don’t have one.

Try to make it as simple as you can. For instance, your first name together with your last name is a good way to go. Finally, avoid providing any existing professional email address, the password of which you have forgotten.

3. The Company’s Name

Office Building

This is another crucial point to double-check. Especially when you are applying to multiple companies. Not only should you check whether it’s the right name but ensure correct spelling as well.

Remember to include the full name of the organization (for instance, if there’s an Inc. at the end of the company’s name, you need to mention that too).

Apart from the company’s name, you should ideally incorporate the following under your name and contact details.

  • The name of the appropriate person you’re sending out your cover letter to
  • His/her position in the organization (if you can find that out)
  • Contact details of the organization

It may sound awkward but many applicants get this wrong by not mentioning the company’s name in full. Understand this, how can a company hire you when you’re unable to even spell its name properly?

Remember, the more attentive you’re of a prospective employer’s reputation, the more likely it is for your cover letter to be read. Sending off your cover letter into the wilderness of the internet can be highly discouraging and thus it’s always advisable to make yours perfect in every possible way.

4. The Dates

It may sound surprising how a job applicant could mention the date wrong in the cover letter but it often happens to many people. They send out cover letters with incorrect dates. This mainly happens when you submit the same cover letter for a significant number of vacancies you apply for.

This also may happen when you use an older template for current use. However, in both cases, you need to make sure that you’ve double-checked the dates and mentioned them correctly.

One of the most common mistakes done by the job applicants is mentioning 5/6/2017 instead of 6/5/2017 as the latter one is correct.

It conveys the message to the employer that you are a careless person and nobody wants to employ a careless person. Also, if you had written your cover letter in the last week and sent that out this week, remember to mention the day when you submit it.

Ideally, you should leave the place for dates (the upper corner of the cover letter) blank and fill it up on the day of sending it out.

5. Spelling and Grammar

Don’t upload or click send before you’ve taken sufficient time to meticulously proofread your cover letter for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

Don’t just rely on spell-check. Instead, try to take a print out of it and give it one further proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.

For instance, is it “you’re” or “your”? Did you mean “affect” or “effect? (Remember, one’s a noun, one’s a verb).

Even the smallest mistakes in your cover letter can make a busy hiring manager refrain from reading it – particularly if the position you’re applying to involves ‘good communication skills’.

Spelling and grammar check is an extremely crucial part of proofreading your cover letter. You must not submit your application with poor spelling and grammar mistakes.

Having spelling and grammatical errors show the employer that you have a bad command of the language and you’re careless as you failed to correct those mistakes. Ideally, you should get someone else to proofread your cover letter and point out any confusing things or mistakes.

People you could ask to proofread your cover letter may include family members, friends, teachers or your career counsellor. Double-check everything in the cover letter.

If you provide a company’s name, ensure you get that right. If you specify geographical areas you’ve worked before, ensure you mention the names right as well.

Final Words

Making your cover letter error-free in every way possible might not ensure that you’ll get the breakthrough but there will be a high probability that it’ll be read. Make sure you double-check the above key things in your cover letter and correct the mistakes.


Written By
Ben Karter is a senior recruiter for Xist4 . He also works as a consultant & trainer for top IT companies. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about and the latest happenings in the tech scene. Reach out to Ben on Twitter.

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