Advertising
Advertising

10 Cover Letter Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now

10 Cover Letter Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now

As someone who has had the horrible task privilege of screening and hiring countless employees, I’ve seen cover letters and resumes of all different flavors fall across my desk. Some have been spectacular, while most have been tepid at best, and there have also been many that were so appalling that I wanted to set them on fire rather than besmirching the bin with their presence.

When you’re applying to work at a company, your cover letter is the first thing that the HR folks or hiring committee will see, so don’t screw it up. Below are ten egregious errors that potential applicants should avoid, plus a bit of advice on how to amend them.

1. “I Would Love to Work for Goggle.”

You would not believe how often people misspell the name of the company they’re applying to work for, and no, it isn’t a minor issue that will be overlooked. If you can’t put forth the effort to spell that correctly—or double-check your work, for that matter—how diligent would you be at the job itself?

2. “To Whom It May Concern.”

That would be the person doing the hiring. They have a name, they have a position in the company, and if they’ve placed an ad for a job opening with our company, there’s a pretty good chance that they’ve included their name along with the contact information. If they haven’t, this is a perfect opportunity for you to take some initiative and show them that you’re actually interested in working for them.

Advertising

On the rare occasions when a person’s name isn’t listed with the email address, do a quick search for the company’s phone number, and use your texting device for its alternate purpose: calling someone. Ask to speak to someone in HR, if possible, but if it’s a small organization and everyone knows everyone else, ask the receptionist who’s doing the hiring and how to spell that person’s name. It’s a personal touch, but shows that you’re willing to go the extra mile to do something the right way.

3. Too Long/Too Short

Your cover letter should be an introduction about yourself, including a few notes about specialized skills, and have enough of your personality to give them a sense of who you are. This is not an opportunity for you to spew forth your life story wherein you mention the prize you got for best science fair project in the fourth grade, or how poor you are right now and are thus desperate for work with anyone who’ll tolerate your presence.

Consider this letter to be a summation of who you are, and what you can offer. A couple of short paragraphs is more than sufficient to do this, and will do wonders for keeping you in the recruiter’s good books. No-one wants to plod through a page-long intro before every resume.

On a similar note, not saying enough in a cover letter is also the kiss of death. Writing something as simple as “My name is __. Here is my resume.” is just not enough. At all. Aim for around 200 words, and you should be golden.

Advertising

4. Spelling Errors

We’ve already covered the possibility of misspelling the company name, but you should be just as diligent about your spelling and grammar throughout your cover letter, resume, and any follow-up communiques. Your application will be placed in the shredder almost immediately if you misspell the recruiter’s name or the position you’re applying for.

Additionally, pay close attention to your own contact information: if you make a typo in your own email address, you won’t hear back from anyone, will you?

barely-speak-english

    5. Arrogance

    No-one likes a person who suffers from insufferable know-it-all-ism, nor do they want to work with someone who considers themselves superior to anyone else. It’s great to be confident about your abilities, but claiming to be the best in your field won’t win you any points. Writing things like, “I’m the best applicant out there,” or “You won’t find a superstar like me anywhere else,” will earn you nothing but contempt.

    Advertising

    6. Banality

    It really is important to customize your cover letter to suit every company you apply to. You can put together a general template and then tweak it a bit for every application, but make sure that it’s tailored accordingly.

    Let’s say that you have an English degree and are applying to a number of different jobs. If you’re aiming for work as an ESL teacher, make mention of any additional languages you speak, and where you may have traveled. Are you applying for writing work? Make mention of any media you’ve been published in. Don’t repeat what’s in your resume, but take the opportunity to toss in a few gems that will make you stand out from other applicants.

    7. Poor Taste in Typefaces

    This one might not seem important, but it actually makes a world of difference.

    If your cover letter is being emailed, ensure that you’re using a clean sans serif font in plain black for easy readability. Although you want to put forth a bit of your individuality in your cover letter, this isn’t the opportunity for you to break out the twirly script fonts in turquoise or purple.

    Advertising

    If you’re sending in a printed cover letter and resume, you have a bit more leeway. This rings especially true if you’re applying for a creative position (graphic designer, copywriter, etc.) as you now have the chance to express your personality with font pairings that you like, and that give a sense of who you are. If you choose Papyrus or Comic Sans, however, you will not make it to the interview room.

    8. Not Following Instructions

    Many job postings will have specific instructions for applicants to follow, and failure to do so is grounds for immediate resume incineration. If the listing says that you shouldn’t call to follow up, don’t call. If you’re instructed to attach a cover letter, resume, and relevant links to your work, then do so. The inability to follow basic instructions is not an appealing trait.

    9. Sending From an Unprofessional Email Address

    You may have thought that a cheeky email address was terribly clever when you were in high school, but it will not do you any favors when you’re applying for a job. It only takes a couple of minutes to create a Gmail account that has some permutation of your first name and last name, and you won’t have your letter pitched out because it came from moron@assbutt.com.

    10. Forgetting to Attach Your Resume

    Yes, it happens more often than you might imagine: people who send out fifty resumes a day seem to forget to attach files every so often, but that just helps to weed out the less diligent applicants.

    Be polite and respectful, end your cover letter by thanking the reviewer for their time, and good luck!

    More by this author

    10 Benefits of Reading: Why You Should Read Every Day 30 Awesome DIY Projects that You’ve Never Heard of 20 Online Resources for Free E-Books 10 Books to Help You Polish Your English & Writing Skills 10 Things That Even You Can Do to Change the World

    Trending in Work

    1Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What 2What Highly Successful People Do Every Day To Perform At Their Best 310 Huge Differences Between A Boss And A Leader 4How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position 517 Versatile Work Skills Employers Want to See in Potential Employees

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 20, 2018

    Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

    Quit Your Job If You Don’t Like It, No Matter What

    Do you know that feeling? The one where you have to wake up to go to your boring 9-5 job to work with the same boring colleagues who don’t appreciate what you do.

    I do, and that’s why I’ve decided to quit my job and follow my passion. This, however, requires a solid plan and some guts.

    The one who perseveres doesn’t always win. Sometimes life has more to offer when you quit your current job. Yes, I know. It’s overwhelming and scary.

    People who quit are often seen as ‘losers’. They say: “You should finish what you’ve started”.

    I know like no other that quitting your job can be very stressful. A dozen questions come up when you’re thinking about quitting your job, most starting with: What if?

    Advertising

    “What if I don’t find a job I love and regret quitting my current job?”
    “What if I can’t find another job and I get in debt because I can’t pay my bills?”
    “What if my family and friends judge me and disapprove of the decisions I make?”
    “What if I quit my job to pursue my dream, but I fail?

    After all, if you admit to the truth of your surroundings, you’re forced to acknowledge that you’ve made a wrong decision by choosing your current job. But don’t forget that quitting certain things in life can be the path to your success!

    One of my favorite quotes by Henry Ford:

    If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

    Everything takes energy

    Everything you do in life takes energy. It takes energy to participate in your weekly activities. It takes energy to commute to work every day. It takes energy to organize your sister’s big wedding.

    Advertising

    Each of the responsibilities we have take a little bit of our energy. We only have a certain amount of energy a day, so we have to spend it wisely.  Same goes for our time. The only things we can’t buy in this world are time and energy. Yes, you could buy an energy drink, but will it feel the same as eight hours of sleep? Will it be as healthy?

    The more stress there is in your life, the less focus you have. This will weaken your results.

    Find something that is worth doing

    Do you have to quit every time the going gets touch? Absolutely not! You should quit when you’ve put everything you’ve got into something, but don’t see a bright future in it.

    When you do something you love and that has purpose in your life, you should push through and give everything you have.

    I find star athletes very inspiring. They don’t quit till they step on that stage to receive their hard earned gold medal. From the start, they know how much work its going to take and what they have to sacrifice.

    Advertising

    When you do something you’re really passionate about, you’re not in a downward spiral. Before you even start you can already see the finish line. The more focus you have for something, the faster you’ll reach the finish.

    It is definitely possible to spend your valuable time on something you love and earn money doing it. You just have to find out how — by doing enough research.

    Other excuses I often hear are:

    “But I have my wife and kids, who is going to pay the bills?”
    “I don’t have time for that, I’m too busy with… stuff” (Like watching TV for 2 hours every day.)
    “At least I get the same paycheck every month if I work for a boss.”
    “Quitting my job is too much risk with this crisis.”

    I understand those points. But if you’ve never tried it, you’ll never know how it could be. The fear of failure keeps people from stepping out of their comfort zone.

    Advertising

    I’ve heard many people say, “I work to let my children make their dream come true”. I think they should rephrase that sentence to: “I pursue my dreams — to inspire and show my children anything is possible.” 

    Conclusion

    Think carefully about what you spend your time on. Don’t waste it on things that don’t brighten your future. Instead, search for opportunities. And come up with a solid plan before you take any impulsive actions.

    Only good things happen outside of your comfort zone.

    Do you dare to quit your job for more success in life?

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Read Next