July 26, 2016

Avoid These Costly Cover Letter Mistakes At All Costs

Everyone will need to write a cover letter at some point. As part of the job search process, it’s the job seeker’s responsibility to make their cover letter absolutely flawless. If you want to find a job, cover mistakes are not allowed. Yet, almost every job seeker manages to slip in at least one or two costly cover letter mistakes. Whoops!

The goal of the cover letter is to detail why you are applying for the job. It should grab the recruiter’s attention, show them why you will be an asset to the company, and encourage them to invite you to a job interview. This is often the first thing that a recruiter or hiring manager will see. If they like what they see, you’ll make it to the interview round. If you have any cover letter mistakes, you’re application will get tossed. The cover letter is kind of a big deal!

Close up of job seeker's face after making a cover letter mistake

How To Write The Best Cover Letter Ever

Writing a cover letter isn’t rocket science. Anyone can do it. When you sit down to write your cover letter, avoid these costly cover letter mistakes at all costs:

  • Proper Formatting – A cover letter needs to be formatted correctly – contact info, date, closing, paragraphs, etc. Without these elements, it will look highly unprofessional.
  • Boring Introduction – Based on your resume and job application, the recruiter knows who you are. There is no need to start with, “My name is Johnny Monkey and I want a job.” They know your name and they know you want a job – that’s why you applied. Discover other unacceptable ways to start a cover letter.
  • Rewriting Your Resume – The cover letter is not a resume. Don’t recap the highlights from your resume. Instead focus on  your accomplishments and what they can add to the company.
  • Lack Of Research – It’s wise to include a fact or statistic about the company in the cover letter. It shows you did your research and that you can relate to what the company has accomplished.
  • Standard Opening – Do your research and address the cover letter to a specific person. It shows you care about the job opportunity.
  • Focusing On The Wrong Things – A cover letter explains why you are the right person for the job. Instead of focusing solely on you, focus on what you can bring to the company. Show them why you are an asset that provides value to your potential new employer. Answer the question, “Why should we hire you?”
  • Typos and Grammar Mistakes – Just like in a resume, a simple typo is reason enough to toss your entire application out. Proofread multiple times.
  • Disregard For Length – Keep your cover letter concise and to the point. Never go over a page. Recruiters don’t have time to read a book about you. They want the facts and they want them quickly.
  • Generic Content – Customize your cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. It’s pretty obvious when you send the same cover letter to every employer.
  • Writing In Third Person – Don’t use “he” or “she” when writing about yourself. Instead use “I”.
  • Adding In Humor – Not everyone has the same sense of humor. Keep it pro.
  • Photos – The cover letter is not a place for photos or head shots. You are more than welcome to point a recruiter toward your online presence, but the cover letter should be all text.
  • Personal Details – The cover letter is a professional document. Don’t write a sob story about why need a job. Stay on topic and use your experience, skills, and writing talent to show why you are job-worthy.
  • Lies – No one likes a liar. Always be honest and never embellish the truth. You will be caught at some point and this will destroy your chances of getting a job. Plus, it can tarnish your reputation as a job seeker.
  • Demands – Don’t demand salaries, perks, benefits, or anything else at this stage. You have to appear as an attractive candidate first. You can negotiate later.
  • No Cover Letter At All – Many inexperienced job seekers will only send their resume when they apply for a job. Guess what? Without a cover letter, you stand no chance of getting to the job interview round.

It is completely within your power to avoid these common cover letter mistakes. Make your cover letter simple, professional, and entertaining. Write concisely and stay on topic. Leave the recruiter wanting to learn more about you and you’ll be interview round material.

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About this Author 

Derek Lennon is a skier and writer who lives, works, and plays in the mountains. He travels the globe in search of snow and adventure. Life has allowed him to live and work all over the world doing cool jobs and loving every minute of it.

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