Hitmarker careers advice: 9 mistakes to avoid in your cover letter

Hitmarker careers advice: 9 mistakes to avoid in your cover letter

Dominic Sacco
12 min read | 27 Nov 2020

Want to make sure your cover letter is as good as it can be when applying for a job in esports? Check out the latest careers advice article from jobs site Hitmarker.

While it’s true that the resume is the backbone of any job application, the cover letter is your chance to really make an impression on the hiring manager. That’s why it’s so crucial to nail. But, there are some pitfalls to watch out for, which we’re going to tell you all about.

First, let us introduce ourselves. We’re Hitmarker, the home of gaming and esports jobs. We’re proud partners of the British Esports Association, and contribute monthly to their esports careers advice section.

This month, we’re discussing what not to do in your next cover letter. Take it from us: we see a lot of application documents, and these are the 9 things you want to avoid in yours. 

 

#1: Making it too formal

This is esports and video gaming; there’s room for a bit of personality in your cover letter! It doesn’t need to read like a university dissertation. 

Numerous hiring managers and executives in esports have said candidates using ‘To whom it may concern’ at the start of a cover letter actually puts them off that person. It’s not reflective of the industry they’re applying in, which could suggest a lack of understanding about the esports community. 

Instead, start your cover letter with something looser, like ‘Hello,’ or ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. If you know the first name of the person in charge of the application process, use that instead. 

As for the rest of the document, use a respectful but modern tone.

 

#2: Reusing old cover letters word-for-word

We understand the temptation to copy and paste old cover letters, and know how shattering it is when a job application you worked hours on never gets a reply. That said, it really is worth writing a unique cover letter for each role you apply to. 

It’s fine to have a rough skeleton that you follow for each job, where your intro and outro might look similar. But the bulk of the cover letter needs to be unique.

Reusing an old document is only going to make your job search longer and more draining, even though it saves time in the short term. These stick out like a sore thumb to a hiring manager. What’s more, it’s impossible to talk about your fit for that specific role, which is what the cover letter is all about. 

Focus your time instead on producing a high-quality, original document. One with specific elements about the job and company you’re applying to included, that the hiring manager can look and say with certainty, ‘They wrote this for us.’ 

If you’re doing that, you’re in for a much better chance of landing your dream job than if you’re sending out a copied cover letter to 10 companies. 

 

#3: Being vague

One of the most common cover letter mistakes is candidates being too vague, and it stems, in part, from people using a ‘general template’ for most jobs they apply to.

A good cover letter is going to speak about who you are as a professional and what your top skills are.

But a great cover letter is going to tell a hiring manager exactly why you’d excel in the position. 

When you’re writing a cover letter, don’t speak generally about what makes you a good professional. Write it with the job description open alongside you. That way, if the job requires someone who has experience with CRM tools and web analytics, you can tell the hiring manager that’s you. 

Back it up with some examples from past jobs or your studies, and you’ll be in a much better place than if you just told them you’re a marketing expert. 

 

#4: Using an inconsistent design

This only applies to you if you send your cover letter as a PDF attachment. If you send it as a separate file, make sure it follows the same style and design as your resume. 

Of course, your cover letter and resume contain very different things, so we’re not saying make them look identical.

But you should be consistent with the font and colour scheme you use, as well as any background design elements your resume contains.

Doing this speaks to your diligence as a candidate and attention to detail. 

 

#5: Making it too personal

It’s common in esports to hear people talk about their origin stories. How they got introduced to video games, and when they became aware of its competitive scene. 

The trouble is, when you’ve heard a lot of these, they begin to sound the same, and a hiring manager will have heard a lot of esports origin stories.

For that reason, keep any personal anecdotes or stories about how you got into gaming brief in your cover letter. 

There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re a lifelong gamer; in fact, you’ll probably score bonus points for that. But recounting the first time you received a console over the whole of the first paragraph is going to make the hiring manager lose interest in your application. 

Your cover letter should be a concise, hyper-relevant document that explains your fit for a job, and personal stories get in the way of that. 

 

#6: Not addressing the job’s responsibilities

Similarly to being too vague, not addressing the job’s responsibilities is a big pothole to avoid for a couple of reasons.

One, it could make the hiring manager think you’ve copy and pasted your last cover letter to them. 

Two, it’s always going to fall short to matching your skills against the job’s responsibilities. 

Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. A candidate who describes themself as an expert in their field is going to be attractive, but not as attractive as the one who lists the key responsibilities of the job and explains why they’d crush them. 

The best thing is, you can add this technique to your cover letters without much effort.

Look at the following sentences. For each of them, we can tailor the point to a specific job with ease. 

I am a web developer most confident working with HTML and CSS.

I am an avid Overwatch fan and have run several tournaments in my university. 

I am a social media expert with significant experience growing Twitter channels.

Now, look at how we can make those even better. 

I am a web developer most confident working with HTML and CSS, which makes me ideal for building out new front-end features for your users. 

I am an avid Overwatch fan and have run several tournaments in my university, giving me the know-how to run your online and in-person events. 

I am a social media expert with significant experience growing Twitter channels, which I know is a significant focus for your marketing team next year. 

By adding a small extension to each of these sentences, they instantly become more personal to the hiring manager and their vacancy, and will elevate you above a lot of competing candidates. 

 

#7: Making it too long

Your cover letter should be within one page of A4, and ideally 3-5 paragraphs. 

  • Begin by introducing yourself and why you’re applying to the role
  • Then speak about your past qualifications and why they set you up to succeed in this new position
  • Mention any relevant achievements, milestones, or other noteworthy events in your career so far
  • End with a respectful and confident sign off

Your cover letter doesn’t need much more than that. If yours has lots of supplementary information, it’s likely your document is too lengthy. 

 

#8: Coming across as overly confident

Job hunting is a competitive area, and as such it can be tempting to go against the grain in order to stand out.

One thing we’d advise against doing, however, is coming across as too confident. We’re talking about introducing yourself as the company’s next hire, or by declaring that the hiring manager’s search is over. 

This might land well with some recruiters, but the majority are unlikely to appreciate the approach. Don’t spoil your chances with something controversial. Think about what else you can do to stand out instead. 

 

9: Spelling and grammar errors

This point goes without saying, but we wanted to include it to give you some ways to catch spelling and grammar errors more easily. 

The first is to run anything you write for a job application through a word processor, or a tool like Grammarly which will not only catch errors, but also provide suggestions for how to improve sentences — even if they’re already correct.

The second bit of advice is to proofread your cover letter aloud. You’re much more likely to notice missed words or poorly phrased sentences if you’re saying the words rather than reading them. 

Phew! Nine tips there to help you level up your next cover letter. 

When you’re writing your next document, keep a few things in mind. 

Make it hyper-relevant to the job you’re applying to. Give the hiring manager what they want to see early, which is explaining why you fit the opening so well. Back this up with past achievements or skills, ensure your cover letter is well presented, and you’re going to have a winning cover letter.  

All that’s left is for us to say the very best of luck! We have more career resources on our website, and you can always reach out to us via our contact page

Thanks for reading, and take care. And do check out our other guides for British Esports below.

The Hitmarker Team

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