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The person continues by writing, “Last week I sent out 8 cover letters, and today I realized instead of “I am writing to apply”, I wrote “I am applying to write”. Eek! How embarrassing. Would this be make or break for you? I haven’t heard back from them yet, but it’s only been a week so I wasn’t worried”

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This is a question I read from someone; I think it's a useful question because it speaks to the heart of mistakes people make with cover letters.

How fatal is this mistake?

Last week, I sent out 8 cover letters; today, I realized that instead of writing, "I am writing to apply," I wrote, "I am applying to write." How embarassing!

Would this be "make or break for you? I haven't heard back from them but it has only been a week.

So the question is "how fatal is this mistake? As always, the answer is, "It depends."

Depends on the nature of the job involved. Depends on whether anyone actually read your cover letter. For example, if you set it as an attachment, no one read it. It depends on the nature of the role; if you are applying for a writing job and you wrote that, it can be fatal. If you wrote for most positions, no one really cares.

They might gloss over it because people read resumes and cover letters in 6 seconds or less. In cover letters, it's often less. If this was your "typical innocuous cover letter" sent as an attachment, no one read it. If this was a "typical innocuous letter" put into the body of an email, someone might have skimmed it quickly to see if there was something relevant in it (if it is like most cover letters, there is nothing relevant in it).

Frankly, I wouldn't worry about it. What seems more damning is that it has been a week since you applied and no one has contacted you.You said, "only a week;" if you're an experienced professional, that is usually the "kiss of death." It would seem that your resume was the bigger problem, not your cover letter. If resumes don't make the case for your candidacy, you're not hearing from an employer. Employers only care about whether a resume "vaguely fits" what they are looking for.

So, I'm less concerned with the cover letter; I am more concerned that you haven't gotten a response. The likelihood is you're not going hear from them. Not having read your resume or seen the position description, I have no basis to judge why. They may have seen stronger people with tighter matches . . . many different reasons. Don't worry about the mistake; it's unlikely anyone noticed.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1400 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
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