Cover Letters: Don’t Make these Obvious Mistakes

Cover Letters: Don’t Make these Obvious Mistakes

Cover letters can feel like frustrating roadblocks standing between you and the perfect job. Even if your resume is sharp and ready, there remains the dreaded cover letter. Here are some tips to simplify the task.

No Pressure, But…It’s Got to be Good

Love it or hate it, the cover letter is critical to landing that first interview. It should be attention-getting, unique, and give the potential employer at least a little sample of your personality. It needs to be tailored to YOU, what YOU bring to the table. It cannot be a cookie cutter design that is the same for every position applied for, not if you want to get the job! Even though all of this is not new information, achieving that result may still elude you. What will set your letter apart from the rest?Inline image 1

Be Sure to Leave These Out of Your Letter

To get attention for all of the right reasons, don’t include the following items in your cover letter:

  1. Anything that is untrue. It’s not worth it, facts can be checked.
  2. Salary requirements or expectations. Your cover letter is not the time or place for this information.
  3. A totally boring greeting. Do you start your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager”? If so, you’re doing it wrong. This shows that you didn’t take your time; you need to do your homework. If there is any way possible, know the name of the person that will be receiving your resume and cover letter.
  4. Explanations for leaving past employment or any negative comments about a current or past employer. Just about any way that you could speak of such things will sound like a justification or excuse. Just avoid this topic on the cover letter.
  5. Desperate pleadings for the job. Of course you are interested, that’s why you are applying. You don’t need to come across as overly grateful for their time. You are worth it and you should come across as such.
  6. Paragraphs that are too long. You don’t want the Employers to skip over your cover letter because it is too time-consuming to read. You should have no more than three sentences in each paragraph that include about 5 lines of text.
  7. Grammar and spelling errors. Enough said.
  8. Boring opening sentences. Don’t repeat the position you are applying for, they know. You need to try starting with something that will get their attention, something different, such as, “I’ve wanted to work in a technology based field for as long as I can remember. I am fascinated by the speed in which things are progressing and I want to be a part of the movement.” Or maybe something like: “Over the past five years with my previous/current employer, I personally increased our average sales by….” Draw their attention and keep it on you.
  9. All of your experience and skills. Your cover letter is not where you want to list details about your skills and experience; your resume will take care of that. Your cover letter should only highlight your background and personality. True, you might still mention skills that make you a good candidate for the position, but you should weave those around displays of your personality and enthusiasm.
  10. Useless personal information. There is such a thing as too much information when it comes to cover letter writing. Don’t feel the need to share personal information or facts not pertaining to the position. You don’t want to make the wrong impression. Don’t give them so much to sift through that they miss out on your most compelling qualifications.

Your cover letter is a key element in the process of applying for employment. Though sometimes it is not required as part of the application process, it is always a great way to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. If the option is yours, submit one. What have you got to lose? A well-written cover letter could be the basis for a decision on whether or not to interview you personally. It could make all the difference and put you at a distinct advantage against your fellow applicants. Give them a little sample of who you are. Personalize yourself in their eyes. They are sure to be intrigued as they turn the page and begin to read your resume.

By Brandy Higginson, Five Strengths Contributor
Image courtesy of tiniroma at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Amy L Adler markets senior executives with persuasive executive resume writing, compelling LinkedIn profile development, and masterful job search coaching, so they can identify and obtain the executive career of their dreams.

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