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10 Cover Letter Mistakes Anyone Could Have Avoided

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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.”

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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 November 15, 2021

20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

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20 Ways to Describe Yourself in a Job Interview

“Please describe yourself in a few words”.

It’s the job interview of your life and you need to come up with something fast. Mental pictures of words are mixing in your head and your tongue tastes like alphabet soup. You mutter words like “deterministic” or “innovativity” and you realize you’re drenched in sweat. You wish you had thought about this. You wish you had read this post before.

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    Image Credit: Career Employer

    Here are 20 sentences that you could use when you are asked to describe yourself. Choose the ones that describe you the best.

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    “I am someone who…”:

    1. “can adapt to any situation. I thrive in a fluctuating environment and I transform unexpected obstacles into stepping stones for achievements.”
    2. “consistently innovates to create value. I find opportunities where other people see none: I turn ideas into projects, and projects into serial success.”
    3. “has a very creative mind. I always have a unique perspective when approaching an issue due to my broad range of interests and hobbies. Creativity is the source of differentiation and therefore, at the root of competitive advantage.”
    4. “always has an eye on my target. I endeavour to deliver high-quality work on time, every time. Hiring me is the only real guarantee for results.”
    5. “knows this job inside and out. With many years of relevant experience, there is no question whether I will be efficient on the job. I can bring the best practices to the company.”
    6. “has a high level of motivation to work here. I have studied the entire company history and observed its business strategies. Since I am also a long-time customer, I took the opportunity to write this report with some suggestions for how to improve your services.”
    7. “has a pragmatic approach to things. I don’t waste time talking about theory or the latest buzz words of the bullshit bingo. Only one question matters to me: ‘Does it work or not?'”
    8. “takes work ethics very seriously. I do what I am paid for, and I do it well.”
    9. “can make decisions rapidly if needed. Everybody can make good decisions with sufficient time and information. The reality of our domain is different. Even with time pressure and high stakes, we need to move forward by taking charge and being decisive. I can do that.”
    10. “is considered to be ‘fun.’ I believe that we are way more productive when we are working with people with which we enjoy spending time. When the situation gets tough with a customer, a touch of humour can save the day.”
    11. “works as a real team-player. I bring the best out of the people I work with and I always do what I think is best for the company.”
    12. “is completely autonomous. I won’t need to be micromanaged. I won’t need to be trained. I understand high-level targets and I know how to achieve them.”
    13. “leads people. I can unite people around a vision and motivate a team to excellence. I expect no more from the others than what I expect from myself.”
    14. “understands the complexity of advanced project management. It’s not just pushing triangles on a GANTT chart; it’s about getting everyone to sit down together and to agree on the way forward. And that’s a lot more complicated than it sounds.”
    15. “is the absolute expert in the field. Ask anybody in the industry. My name is on their lips because I wrote THE book on the subject.”
    16. “communicates extensively. Good, bad or ugly, I believe that open communication is the most important factor to reach an efficient organization.”
    17. “works enthusiastically. I have enough motivation for myself and my department. I love what I do, and it’s contagious.”
    18. “has an eye for details because details matter the most. How many companies have failed because of just one tiny detail? Hire me and you’ll be sure I’ll find that detail.”
    19. “can see the big picture. Beginners waste time solving minor issues. I understand the purpose of our company, tackle the real subjects and the top management will eventually notice it.”
    20. “is not like anyone you know. I am the candidate you would not expect. You can hire a corporate clone, or you can hire someone who will bring something different to the company. That’s me. “

    Featured photo credit: Tim Gouw via unsplash.com

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