Don't let simple cover letter mistakes hold you back from your dream job.

First impressions matter a lot, especially when you've got only a couple of paragraphs to present yourself as a potential employee worth hiring. A good cover letter can set the right tone and help shape your application into just the thing you had envisioned. Because of that, learning how to write a correctly formatted, professional cover letter is imperative. Don't miss the opportunity to improve your career because you don't know what the hiring manager is looking for.

Writing cover letters may seem redundant, but that document is of the first things a prospective employer looks at before thinking of hiring you. Apart from supporting your resume, your cover letter functions as an introduction of yourself before the experience and credentials laid out in your resume are looked at. Writing a cover letter that sets you apart from other candidates is all about planning and execution; a good one will be well-written, exhibit your skills, detail your experience and qualities, and, of course, won't include any glaring errors that may cost you the interview. Remember that you may have a well-crafted resume, but if your cover letter fails to hit the mark, it's likely that the employer will move on to another application without looking at your resume. If that happens, all the work you put into your attention-grabbing and creative introduction, your extensive relevant experience, and your detailed list of skills would be in vain. Here we've listed five key things that you must double check in your cover letter if you want to impress the hiring manager.

The hiring manager's name

First of all, you need to check that you're addressing your cover letter to the appropriate person. Notice we mentioned “'person” here and not something ambiguous 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 show the employer that you've spent time researching the organization. When it comes to reviewing applicants' cover letters, the job usually falls on one of the following people: an HR representative, a recruiter or sourcing coordinator, or the hiring manager. Devoting some time to research the person's name and address your cover letter to him or her gives a personal touch that can pay off. It also proves that you haven't sent a generic cover letter template with your application. If you found the opportunity in an advertisement, it would most likely have the name of the person to whom you should address. If not, it's best to call the organization and ask for the right person's name (and be sure to spell it correctly). Finally, remember not to directly use a first name. Instead, mention “Mr.” or “Ms.” and then the last name.

Related: Here's the Right Way to Address a Cover Letter

Your contact information

Imagine this: Your job application is absolutely error-free and quite impressive, and the organization wants to reach out to you for an interview — but can't. It may seem silly, but job applicants have been known to forget to include their contact details on their cover letter and resume. Don't make this small yet costly cover-letter mistake! Put your full name, as it appears on your resume and LinkedIn profile, along with your phone number and email address on your cover letter. If you're uploading your cover letter as a Word document or PDF file to an online application, you may choose to add the same header of contact information that appears on your resume so your application materials look consistent. When selecting a phone number to include with your resume and cover letter, choose the one where you control the voicemail message, who picks up the phone, and when.

As for your email address, it needs to create a professional impression. Avoid providing any email address that sounds childish — you can always create a professional email address with a free email provider if you don't yet have one. And keep it simple. Your first name together with your last name is a good way to go. Finally, if you're currently employed, avoid using the email address provided by your current employer — there's no need to raise any red flags at work before you've secured a new job!

The company's name

This is another crucial point in your cover letter to double check, especially when you are applying to multiple companies. Not only should you check that you've written the correct company name, but also 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).

It may sound awkward, but many applicants fumble by not mentioning the company's name in full. After all, how can a company hire you if you neglect to properly spell its name? The more attentive you are of a prospective employer's reputation, the more likely it is that your cover letter will be read.

Spelling and grammar

You've spent hours trying to write the perfect cover letter, so why would you submit it before proofreading for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors? A thorough proofread is essential for ensuring that you haven't missed any slip-ups — it's the little things like “you're” versus “your” and “effect” versus “affect” (one's a noun, one's a verb!) that will get you. Instead, try to take a printout of it and give it one further proofread for spelling and grammatical errors. 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.” Having spelling and grammatical errors makes the employer think that you don't have a strong command of the language and that you're careless. When proofreading, don't just rely on spellcheck. Printing out your cover letter and reading it on paper is a great way to catch things you may have missed. Ideally, you should find someone else to proofread and point out any confusing phrases or mistakes. Family members, friends, teachers, your professional resume writer, or career coach are all good people to ask.

Final words

Making your cover letter error-free might not guarantee that you'll get the job, but there will be a high probability that it will at least be read. Make sure you double check the above key things in your cover letter. Correct the mistakes and you'll have a professional cover letter that's ready to go!

Make sure your resume matches your stellar cover letter with a free resume critique from TopResume.

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