Ohio University Office of Career Services

Employer Perspectives: Résumé and Cover Letter Mistakes by Alyse K

Résumés and Cover Letter Mistakes

During our Winter Career, we asked our employers to give us some insights and feedback. When we asked employers what some common mistakes students make on résumés and cover letters, the top three responses we received from the employers who responded were:

  1. Grammar and Spelling

  2. Wrong company, position, etc listed

  3. Too much irrelevant information or not enough important information

Here are some resources to help you improve your résumé and cover letters:

Career Services Résumé and Cover Letter resources

Career Services blog: How to Write a Cover Letter

Avoid These 7 Killer Cover Letter Mistakes

Career Services On Demand Presentation: Résumé Basics & Cover Letter Writing

How to Write a Cover Letter by Alyse K

During my walk-in hours at Career Services, I have had several students come in panicked because they have no idea where to begin with a cover letter. This worries me because a cover letter is your first opportunity to impress an employer. If you need some help getting started, follow these basic guidelines and use the suggested resources:

  1. Tailor each cover letter to the position / company you are applying to

  2. Use the same name and contact information header that you use on your resume

  3. Next, include the date, followed by your contact person’s name, title, and business address

  4. During your salutation, always do your best to find a contact person’s name, instead of writing “To whom this may concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam”, and follow the with a colon (:)

  5. During the opening paragraph:

    • State why you are writing.
    • Mention the position that you are applying for / type of work you are interested in and where you discovered this position / company
    • Briefly state why you are interested in this particular position and/or organization and what specifically attracts you to it
    • Grab your reader’s attention
  6. In the second paragraph, you really need to sell yourself:

    • Communicate the skills, experience, education, etc. that fit with this particular position / employer (use the job description and research you have done on the employer to construct this)
    • Make sure to mention any highlights from your resume that you would like to expand upon or draw the reader’s attention to but do NOT rehash your entire resume
    • Discuss experiences you have had and the transferable skills you would be able to use with specific examples of why you possess those skills
  7. In the closing paragraph:

    • Mention your sincere interest in an interview opportunity and how they can contact you by including your email address and phone number
    • Whenever possible, keep the ball in your court by mentioning that you will be the one to follow-up, and mention a specific time period when this will occur
    • Be sure to thank them for their time and consideration
  8. After the closing paragraph, use “Sincerely,” “Cordially,” etc. and your signature (make sure to actually sign your name on a paper copy)

  9. If you are including another document (i.e., your resume), type “Enclosure: Resume” after your signature, and make sure that you have mentioned this document in the body of your letter

  10. Proofread your cover letter for perfection

    • Check for basic spelling and grammatical errors
    • Do not use the word “I” too often
    • Do not repeat the same words or phrases too often
    • Make sure your skills are relevant to the job description

For additional information on how to write a cover letter:

– Jenn Grimm, Winter Quarter Practicum Student for Career Services