Do you just want to scream when you think about cover letters? We certainly do. Cover letters are such a simple thing – a short letter that accompanies your resume and job application – but they are so much more than that. Without a proper cover letter, you stand no chance of getting a job.
We were browsing the Internet when we stumbled across a few blog posts from Readers Digest, AdWeek, and Huffington Post that highlight some absolutely ridiculous cover letters. All we could say was “WOW!” We couldn’t believe what some people write in their cover letters. All of these links are worth a click if you enjoy laughing.
After a good chuckle, we got to thinking a bit more about cover letters. Cover letters are your ticket to getting your resume read, so why can cover letters be such a disaster? Well, there are lots of reasons.
Discover 12 reasons why your cover letter is a total disaster:
- Repeat Your Resume – The cover letter must be different than your resume. Don’t just repeat your resume or CV. Instead keep it fresh and show that you’re committed to the job.
- Too Much Information/Too Little Information – Don’t write a novel and don’t write a sentence. Keep your cover letter to 200 to 300 words – and definitely less than a page.
- Boring – If you read your cover letter and find yourself yawning in boredom, the recruiter will feel the same way. Keep it lively. Use action verbs. Engage your reader. Don’t start every sentence with “I.”
- No Keywords – Hit on the hot topics and keywords from the job description or from the company. Show that you’re paying attention. When a recruiter skims your application, those keywords will pop out and capture his attention.
- Lack Of Knowledge/Research – Take the time to research both the job and the company that you are applying for. Drop a comment in your cover letter that shows you made the effort and did your homework. It makes a difference.
- Typos and Grammar Mistakes – A single mistyped letter can completely change the meaning of what you are trying to say. Take the time to proofread. Get a friend to read it too. Only send off cover letters that are error free.
- Negativity – No matter how you feel, never ever bad mouth your former employer. Stay positive about your potential new start. No one likes negativity.
- Generic Cover Letter – Did you use the same cover letter to apply to multiple jobs? That’s a big no-no. Always customize your cover letter to the specific job you are applying for.
- Template Usage – If you found a cover letter template on Google, so did a handful of other applicants. Write your own cover letter, don’t use someone else’s template and just fill in the blanks. Recruiters hate that.
- Bragging – There’s a fine line between acknowledging your accomplishments and outright bragging. Keep it professional and try to be as humble as possible.
- Attempting Humor – Not everyone has the same sense of humor. Don’t crack a joke in your cover letter, maintain a professional tone.
- Not Following Instructions – Most companies supply very specific instructions when you are applying for a job. Follow them exactly – no exceptions.
Mastering the art of the cover letter is no easy task. The best advice is to take the time to tactfully craft the perfect, customized cover letter for the job. It may take a bit more time, but you’ll be more likely to get hired. If you still need help, here’s how to write the best cover letter ever.