Career Blog > Cover Letter Guide and Resources > 4 Common Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid for First-Time Job Seekers

If you’re applying for a professional job for the first time, there’s a strong chance the path ahead won’t be perfectly smooth. As you search for and then step into your first professional job, you’ll certainly make plenty of mistakes, and every mistake will come with valuable lessons. But all the same, you can save yourself time and trouble by watching out for common cover letter mistakes like these.

1. An Overly Stiff, Formal, or Flowery Tone

You’re trying to sound professional, and to an inexperienced young job seeker, this may mean loading your letter with words like however, thus and furthermore. Instead, recognize that it’s okay to loosen up a bit and keep your letter warm and friendly. If you wouldn’t use these words in a real life conversation, don’t use them on your cover letter.

2. Overused, Empty Terms

To your ears, words like management potential, success-driven and results-oriented may ring with professional resonance, but these are actually hollow phrases that apply to everyone and don’t add any value to your letter. Replace them with something more specific, or just get rid of them altogether.


Watch out for words that seem original to you, but are actually cringe-inducing cliches that will immediately reveal your inexperience. These include paradigm, synergy, business solutions, and change-driving.

4. Apologies

Don’t apologize for your lack of professional experience. Instead, showcase your strengths and the relevant tasks and projects you’ve completed during your student years. You can also emphasize your ambitions and future plans if your past track record looks a little thin. But whatever you do, avoid statements such as: I’m sorry to waste your time and I may not have much experience, but to help make your job easier, we’ve provided a simple cover letter builder tool. Don’t forget to attach your resume to your cover letter!

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