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10 Cover Letter Mistakes Anyone Could Have Avoided

10 Cover Letter Mistakes Anyone Could Have Avoided

There’s nothing worse than handing in a job application, then realizing you made an error. While many of us take time to craft the perfect resume, it’s important to take time on your cover letter as well. Cover letters are a key element in applying for new jobs, and can be a powerful tool in grabbing your prospective employer’s attention. Eliminate the problems in your cover letter with these 10 critical points to avoid.

1. Forgetting To Proofread

The easiest cover letter mistake to avoid is forgetting to proofread it. Simple spelling errors or run on sentences imply that you didn’t take any time on your letter, which may make employers think you aren’t invested in the position. Make sure you proofread your cover letter a few times to weed out any simple mistakes.

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2. No Contact Info

Another easy mistake to avoid is not including your contact information. Don’t assume that your potential employer will be able to simply reply to your email, since they may print your letters before going through them. Always include your phone number and email address on your cover letter and resume to avoid missing an opportunity because a manager couldn’t find your details in a pile of emails.

3. Being Too Generic

If your cover letter is not personalized enough, you run the risk of prospective employers breezing over you. Look out for nonspecific descriptors and broad summaries about former employers. If your cover letter is generic enough that it could be describing someone else if you switch the name, you run the risk of looking like you copy and pasted the letter. A lack of description is not impressive to future employers.

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4. Having a Slow Start

Another common cover letter mistake is to ramble on too long at the beginning, or lack direction. If your cover letter has a weak start, your reader might click away before even finishing. Remember that your cover letter will likely be viewed with hundreds of others – you need to grab the reader’s attention right away, or you risk looking mediocre.

5. Being Too Informal

Despite the fact that email makes it possible to apply for jobs in your pajamas, don’t let this make you too informal in your cover letter. Addressing the reader disrespectfully or using unprofessional language is a big turn off for hiring mangers. Avoid starting your cover letter with colloquial greetings like “Hey” or “Hi there.”

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6. Repeating Your Resume

Listing your resume verbatim in your cover letter should also be avoided. Not only will this create too much text to read, you risk sounding less qualified than you are. If your resume doesn’t have some further reading into your qualifications, employers might judge you as unimpressive, simply for giving up too much information at the start.

7. Being Too Modest

Another way to write an unimpressive cover letter is to undersell your experience. Modesty is an admirable quality in life, but a cover letter that is too modest will make you look underqualified. Reduce the risk of being passed over by not shying away from your accomplishments. Talking about a few truly impressive qualities in your cover letter will entice your future employer into reading more and viewing your resume.

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8. Not Showing Enough Interest

When you’re submitting a cover letter, it’s important to show interest in the position. Try listing something that excites you about the position or company you’re applying too. By showing interest in your cover letter, the hiring managers know that you will be invested in the position should you receive it.

9. Improperly Addressing Your Reader

Just as harmful as being too familiar in your greeting, is using the wrong greeting. While a certain amount of formality will work in your favor for cover letters, too much makes you sound disinterested. Avoid using old fashioned addresses like Sir and Madam, while also avoiding greetings that are too familiar or slang ridden. Ideally, you should try and find out the name of the manager you’re submitting to, and address them in your cover letter. If you can’t find a name, try something that doesn’t sound too repetitive, like “Dear Hiring Manager” or “Dear Future Employer.”

10. Too Long Or Short

Making your cover letter too short or too long is another common mistake. Cover letters that are too short make you look like you are underqualified or uninterested. On the other hand, a cover letter that is too long floods your reader with too much text, making your qualifications and experience difficult to internalize. Try limiting your cover letter to two blocks of text, each no more than four sentences long. The person you’re trying to impress is likely busy and short on time, so you want to strike a balance between informative and concise. If you’re still struggling to find the right balance, check out our article on How To Make Sure Busy People Read Your Email.

Featured photo credit: Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

  • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
  • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
  • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
  • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
  • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

1. Value Your Time Above Money

There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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2. Build a Network

Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

3. Believe It Is Possible

One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

“environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

4. Put Yourself Out There

You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

More Resources About Career Change

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
[2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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