When you’re in the job market, the covering letter you produce is your first point of contact with any potential employer. It introduces Brand You.

No matter how impressive your CV, the letter you send with it can decide whether or not it will even be read.

Cover letters are the ‘litmus test’ that indicate whether you’ve paid attention to the job advertisement and if you are genuinely interested in the role. Any mistakes you make, will prejudice your chances.

To make a lasting first impression that compels the recruiter to read on, here are 10 common errors you should avoid.

  1. Not even sending a cover letter
    Cover letters not only sell you to the recruiter, but they also give trained recruiters snapshot insights into how you prefer to be presented to potential employers.
  1. Opening with an inappropriate salutation
    Do your homework: check who your letter is going to. Once you have the contact person’s name, you can address them as Mr. or Ms. Otherwise, use a gender-neutral salutation.
  1. Ignoring grammar and spelling mistakes
    Use your computer’s facilities and have a clever friend or two proof your letter before it goes out.
  1. Leaving out the job title or job reference
    Failing to quote the job title or job reference in your cover letter suggests an inability to follow instructions. It could result in your application not being processed.
  1. Addressing the wrong person or company
    Before dispatching your job application, check the contact details on your cover letter against those in the job ad.
  1. Being too casual or familiar
    Watch your language, Stiff and formal is as daunting as sloppy and over-casual. Be professional and concise without using too much industry jargon. Style and personality will make you be noticed – and that’s what you want.
  1. Attaching an informal photo
  1. Spamming multiple recruiters
    No way!  Always tailor make each message and take meticulous care to address the requirements as telegraphed in the advertisement to which you’re responding.
  1. Using an unprofessional email address
    A personal email address of fallingdowndrunk@yahoo.com or sexyfoxx@bigpond.com is not good. Set up something more professional for your job hunt that preferably shows your name.
  1. Not revising an old cover letter
    Customise. Customise. Customise. And never forget to update!