This article is part of a series called How to Write a Cover Letter. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

Does your cover letter suck? Chances are if you’re applying to lots of jobs without a single call, then your cover letter is probably a stinker and most likely sucks.

I make no apologies for saying it like it is and dropping the “suck”-bomb. ‘Cause seriously, when you need a job and want an interview — and you’re no where close to an offer — it’s not like you say, “Ahhh shucks. That’s too bad. Now let’s go eat ice cream and play with kittens.” NO! You probably feel like s$it, wonder how you’re going to pay the rent, and cry, “Oh crap this sucks!”

Cover Letter Writing Series:
  1. Cover Letter Anatomy
  2. 6 Sucky Things
  3. 5 Rockin’ Things
  4. Cover Letter Formats
  5. Cover Letter Examples
  6. Free Cover Letter Templates

So yeah, I hear you. Landing a job interview isn’t easy, and it doesn’t take much for an otherwise solid set of skills to be tossed aside due to a few common mistakes. So here are 6 simple ways to convert your cover letter from suck to super.

1. To Whom It May Concern

Please, tell me to whom it may concern. I may not get very concerned if I’m not the right “to whom.”

I often wonder what job seekers are thinking when they address their cover letter “To Whom It May Concern.” Don’t you know? Have you no clue who to target with your job application? You’d better. In today’s crappy economy you’ve got to get your salutation right and make sure your application lands on the right person’s desk. Ohh, and copping out with a generic “Dear Sir/Madam” doesn’t cut it either. People generally like to be addressed as themselves, so if you want the job then get specific with your salutation.


  • To Whom It May Concern,


  • Dear Ms. Taylor,


  • Dear Sir/Madam,


  • Dear Human Resources Manager,

If you don’t know who to address your cover letter to then take a gander at the job listing. Chances are the right contact person is listed right there in the job description. If you’re still clueless then research the employer to get the details or address your application to a job title.

The cover letter that best addresses and engages the reader gets the job interview.

2. Desperation

Being desperate doesn’t work in dating. Desperation doesn’t work in cover letters either. Don’t be that guy (or gal) who begs for an interview and tries to bargain for the job. You may desperately need the job, but the more desperate you sound the more likely you’ll turn off the person you’re supposed to impress. Icky.


  • Please give me a call ANYTIME for an interview. I promise to be the best employee you have ever hired. I desperately want this job.


  • I am very interested in Company ABC’s Software Developer position and believe my programming skills in C++ are an excellent fit for the job. Company ABC has an excellent reputation and I welcome the opportunity to meet with you for an interview.

When asking for an interview be sure to sell your skills and cite your qualifications. Check your desperate emotional desires at the door. Nobody wants to date desperate. Nobody wants to hire desperate either.

3. False Qualifications

Career cheaters and cover letter liars get caught eventually, so don’t do it. We all want to be viewed in the best possible light, but falsifying your job application to get ahead is a sure-fire way to get fired.


  • Saved the company from filing bankruptcy by making several million dollar sales to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.


  • Increased sales of user software by 32% in 6 months.

The best way to sell your skills and qualify your qualifications is to share numerical facts with employers. Write percentages, dollar amounts, and numbers to best explain your accomplishments and you won’t feel the need to falsify your cover letter.

4. Too Personal

Do you offer personal photo links or websites on your cover letter? Don’t. No hiring manager wants to accidentally stumble upon pictures of your Brazilian wax on Facebook. Hiring managers want to get to know you on a professional basis. They don’t want to know all about your personal hair removal remedies even if they are applicable to the job.


  • I have 3 years of experience with self waxing and would be an excellent addition to your Spa team. I don’t have professional training but if you want photos, check out my Facebook page to really get a good look.


  • I am submitting my resume for consideration towards the Esthetician position at Relax Body Spa. My four years of cosmetology experience make me an ideal candidate for this position. My professional portfolio is available via

Keep your cover letter professional and your personal life private by offering information that showcases your abilities without revealing too much. If you’ve got an online portfolio, be sure to remove all private content before submitting it on your application. The job seeker who can navigate the fine line between personal and private in today’s internet age gets the job interview.

5. Ego Centric

Is your cover letter all about you, yourself, and more you? Well, you’re sucking big time with this fatal ego centric error. News flash: Your cover letter isn’t about you. It’s about how you fit the employer’s job requirements. What can you do for the employer? What does an employer gain from hiring you? If you’ve got the goods then tone them down by letting your accomplishments boast for you.


  • I was undeniably the best accountant in my graduating class.


  • In my graduating year of college I received the Gold Medal for Accounting Excellence. This scholastic achievement meets your New Graduate academic requirements.

Share your accomplishments, skills, and qualifications in a way that showcases you as the perfect fit for the job, not as an ego-centric buffoon.

6. Missing Resume

It really sucks when you put a lot of work into your cover letter but forget to submit your resume. Snicker. I understand the excitement of pulling the trigger and sending your application to a prospecitve employer — but forgetting to send your resume is sloppy. Just.Don’t.Do.It. Most employers won’t give you the time of day if you can’t even submit your resume right. Sorry.

Final Things

There you have it. Six of the suckiest things commonly found on cover letters today. These six just tip the list though, so check out these other resume writing deadly don’ts to help you get onto the hiring manager’s interview list!

Got a personal favorite you’d like to add to this cover letter hit list?