1. No Spelling or typing errors (not even one)
This shows an element of carelessness in the applicant. It portrays you as a person that does not pay attention to details. This is a big minus for you.
2. Let your address be precise.
If you can find out who is making the hiring decision, address it to the person. Be sure the name is spelt correctly and the title is correct. A touch of formality is good too: address the person as Mr., Ms, Mrs., and Dr., Professor.
3. Let the words be yours.
Avoid plagiarism (copy cat). Use your own words so that it sounds like you, not like something out of a Shakespearean book.
Put yourself in the shoe of the employer. You read the first cover letter .You are impressed with it. You read the second only to discover that the only difference is the name and signature. You decide to pardon the second cover letter but what will be the fate of the third occurrence of the same cover letter? Do not use quotes and other “sayings” in your cover letter that are not yours. Remember you are not doing poetry.
4. Show that you know something about the company and the industry.
This is where your research comes in .Do not go overboard, just make it clear that you did not pick this company out of the phonebook .Just show that you know who they are, what they do and you have chosen them. For example : If the firm is handling a dredging project presently, It will interest them to know that you got dredging knowledge or experience; or if the firm is an advertising firm, feel free to highlight your competence in advertising and communication.
5. Use terms and phrases that are meaningful to the employer.
This is where your industry research and networking come in. If you are applying for an advertised position, use the requirements in the advertisement and highlight them in your cover letter. Example: If you are applying for the post a Business Development Officer you may use keywords like ‘thorough business analysis,’ ‘step growth curve,’ etc. You may also mention some business and performance analysis tools like GANTT and PERT charts. In case you are being nervous in an attempt to be natural, feel free to pick a good book on spelling errors and grammar.
Your cover letter may not have the opportunity to be considered good or bad, which is worse than being bad, if it does not get to the recruiter. Therefore, ensure you use a reliable mailing company or deliver it personally to the person/department in charge.