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.
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.
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.”
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.
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