11 Common Entry-Level Cover Letter Mistakes

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 31 August 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A good entry-level cover letter boosts your chances of securing employment when you have limited experience. It's important to take your cover letter seriously as they often lead to interviews. With entry-level positions, it is important to focus on your motivation for applying and transferable skills. In this article, we'll discuss what entry-level cover letters are and tips for how to write one.

Related: How to Write a Cleaner Cover Letter

What is an entry-level cover letter?

An entry-level cover letter is a written document that outlines your knowledge and skills relating to a job. Your cover letter demonstrates to employers why you're the best candidate for the job and allows them to construct a positive first impression of you before an interview. Cover letters accompany a CV, allowing hiring managers to gauge your potential. An entry-level cover letter can include:

  • a brief introduction that details why you're a strong candidate for the role

  • reasons why the employer could consider you for the position, including relevant experience, skills and knowledge

  • a glimpse at your personality

  • contact information that allows the employer to get in touch

Related: High Paying Entry Level Jobs

11 entry-level cover letter mistakes to avoid

Many people make entry-level cover letter mistakes, such as underselling themselves or sending the same letter to everyone. Knowing these mistakes and how to avoid them could make you stand out from other applicants. Remember, a good entry-level cover letter can lead to an interview or job offer.

Although not every entry-level covering letter is the same, some common mistakes appear amongst candidates. These mistakes range from formatting errors to unnecessary content. Cover letter mistakes can hurt your application, so it's important to be aware of them and correct your cover letter accordingly. Here are 11 common cover letter mistakes and how to avoid them:

1. You give the same cover letter to everyone

Employers disregard applications that don't highlight relevant skills, so customise each cover letter to suit the job description. This means that employers can readily identify how you meet or exceed requirements for the role without having to wade through unnecessary information. It may not be necessary to re-write your cover letter every time, but make sure you tweak sentences to suit the job requirements.

Related: 7 Powerful Ways to Start a Cover Letter (With Examples)

2. It's overly formal

Overly formal language can seem unnatural and unsettling for employers. A successful entry-level cover letter is personable and customised. Creating an entry-level cover letter that has a professional tone can also show that you're an approachable person. Use friendly language and read your letter aloud before submission. This helps you identify any areas that sound unnatural and ensures that your letter flows nicely.

Related: How Important Is a Cover Letter?

3. Using the wrong company name

When using a previous cover letter as a template, you may forget to change the company's details. This can make you seem unprofessional and could undermine your application. Make sure that you address the correct company and avoid misspelling their name. Research the company first to ensure you understand its values and current work and your letter is relevant.

4. You're underselling yourself

Writing a letter that requires you to emphasise your qualities and sell yourself can be daunting. Remember that you're writing an entry-level cover letter, so it's normal for you to lack experience. This doesn't mean that your application is any less professional or important. Detail any transferable skills related to the position and confidently advocate for yourself.

Related: How to Address a Cover Letter (With Examples)

5. It's too long

Some people get carried away when writing their cover letters to outline all of their relevant skills. For entry-level positions, recruiters can get several applications. It is important not to take up too much of their time. Aim to write three paragraphs that total between 250-500 words. Any other information can go on your CV. The three paragraphs include:

  • the job you intend to fill and why it interests you

  • the reason why you can do the job

  • how you intend to be successful in the role

Related: How Long Should a Cover Letter Be?

6. You don't proofread

Failing to proofread your letter could lead to you submitting a document that contains grammatical or structural errors. Spelling mistakes, incorrect layout and formatting issues can look unprofessional. Once you complete your cover letter, make sure you read through it aloud to ensure the words flow. If you are struggling to see mistakes when proofreading, ask a friend or family member to read the letter to you, that way you can identify any clunky phrasing.

7. It's full of irrelevant filler

Irrelevant filler is the main reason entry-level cover letters veer off-topic. Focus on your relevant skills and avoid listing all of your qualities. Lists mean that you're not backing up your skills with relevant experience. Instead, pick a few applicable skills and write examples of projects or experiences that show them.

8. You exclusively use an online template

Online templates are useful tools for entry-level candidates who have no experience. Although, this doesn't mean you can copy a template word-for-word. Use the template to determine what elements to include in your cover letter, then tailor it to your experience and points from the job description. Don't send an entry-level cover letter with only your name, address and contact information changed. Employers are aware of standard cover letter templates and may disregard your application completely.

Related: What Is a Cover Letter Template?

9. You seem disingenuous

An entry-level cover letter may demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the company. Research the company and include information that shows your understanding of the company. You can comment on their advertising, business strategies or social media approach. Identify how you can contribute to their current aims and how you plan to do so. This ensures you make a personalised comment on the company and demonstrate genuine interest.

10. It's focused on grades

Completing a degree or training course at a highly respected institution is a good achievement, but it's not always applicable to the role. A student with fewer educational qualifications who can demonstrate relevant skills through experience has an equal chance at a job than those with only educational experience. Include ways that show that your motivation beyond your educational achievement. Focus on the problem-solving, leadership and organisational skills you have developed elsewhere.

Related: How To Write a Cover Letter With No Experience (With Example)

11. You're too self-focused

Remember that your entry-level cover letter isn't just about you and how the company can help boost your career. Hiring managers also may want to know what you can do for the company and how you plan to succeed in the role. To avoid appearing selfish, make sure that you detail how your education and experience allow you to complete the responsibilities of the job position.

Outline any ideas you have to improve business for the company and what expertise you have that support these claims. This doesn't mean you abandon your needs completely. You can include a line in the opening paragraph that outlines what this role can do for you. This demonstrates your interest in the company immediately.

Example of an entry-level cover letter

If you are struggling to start your cover letter, you can review this example for help. Remember to change your personal and company details. Also, include any relevant skills and experience:

Dear Jenny Wright,

I am writing to you to express my interest in the entry-level Copywriter position with CopyCo. As a recent graduate with writing and editing experience, I feel that I would be the perfect fit for this role.

As part of my degree, I undertook an extended editing project, where I managed and edited the work of my peers. This project proved to be very successful and my peers, and I received an award for our hard work. This experience would enable me to excel in this role, as it taught me how to meet deadlines and edit accurately.

In addition to this, I have taken part in several extra-curricular activities, including sailing and the student business society. These activities have helped me develop a better understanding of teamwork and modern business structure, which would enable me to quickly settle into your collaborative team.

I feel that my passion, skills and experience would enable me to thrive in this role. As a dedicated writer and hard-working graduate, I would love the opportunity to develop my career with your team.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Tyne.

Related: Common Interview Questions For Graduates

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