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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 November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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