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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.

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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.

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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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    Catherine Winter

    Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on August 16, 2019

    15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

    15 Smart Ways to Approach Interpersonal Relationships at Work

    Once you have embarked on your professional life, whether it is after college or high school, you will be making a transition to the workplace. If possible, it is good to find an employer that is flexible. In other words, one that possesses a culture that is diverse and tailors to the needs of its employees as a bottom line.

    But, even if you don’t land your dream job right away, there are many ways to improve your experiences within the workplace as you climb the career ladder.

    In the subsequent sections will be looking over ways to engage your relationships at work, including 15 ways to effectively approach interpersonal relationships at the workplace.

    1. Open Up Cautiously

    Depending on if its a startup, a small business, enterprise or corporation it’s important to be aware of your surroundings.

    Be mindful of how much you open up about yourself, specifically regarding your personal life. You do not want to give the wrong impression, so be careful how much or what details you divulge about being in a relationship or having children.

    You have to reach a certain comfort level and rapport with the rest of the staff to be able to engage in transparent conversations. A good general guideline is to stick to small talk.

    2. Observe Your Surroundings

    There will be times when we are summoned to have a leadership role or to undertake a project to lead a team.

    Try not to be too bold or overcompensate at every turn when there is a meeting or an interaction among other staff or employees. The last thing you want to do is to be the person who wants to monopolize every conversation and every interaction.

    Be a passive observer at first, and more often than not, you will learn a lot by letting others talk a lot about themselves.

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    3. Listen Actively

    It may seem redundant, but it is essential to practice the art of really listening to the other person.

    Developing interpersonal skills and connections with others at work comes down to listening. It is not just paraphrasing what your superiors or colleagues are trying to communicate; it is about understanding what is at the core and reading between the lines.

    Phrases like “I can see what you are saying” or “I can acknowledge your insight” are just some examples. Learn to empathize and relate with people with whom you have a genuine connection.

    4. Consolidate All Feedback

    When you learn to listen to others and to allow them to finish their thoughts you are on your way to be being a great communicator.

    One of the toughest tasks to accomplish is to include everyone’s voice. Don’t rely on shout-outs or trying to come up with the best answer. Including everyone’s voice is about listening to all suggestions and putting together an entire picture. When everyone feels part of the process there is great cohesion.

    5. Never Make Sweeping Judgements

    As person and a human being with compassion never make any assumptions about anyone.

    Just because they have a certain skin color, clothes or physical features, never make stereotypical or generalizations about anyone.

    6. Keep Emotions in Check

    Work-related stress is something we all have to deal with at some point or another. Whether you work in the public or private sector you will encounter stressors or stressful co-workers. In this case, it is good to keep open the lines of communications.

    Always ask to clarify how a person feels and where they are coming from. It is better to entertain these conversations before they make a person lash out or have a negative reaction. Ask to speak privately and get feedback. When you do this it really shows you care about what your role is and that you are a true professional.

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    7. Give Help to Others

    Having compassion and empathy for others is a noble attitude to practice.

    Though, do be careful about how much you want to get involved with colleagues at the office; it could jeopardize the nature of your work relationship and the roles you both have.

    It’s best to separate the personal from the professional and lend a hand by using your best judgement.

    8. Broaden Your Horizons

    Once you have worked in a company or an organization, things can get repetitive and dull. Sometimes we need to remember that we are human and need to fulfill certain responsibilities.

    Often we want to try to change things by introducing our best abilities or perhaps our inventions, but we need to be realistic. Change does not happen overnight, rather it is a long process.

    Step back and take a look at the big picture, and, put all your cards on the table to get perspective. Sometimes we approach situations in life from the wrong point-of-view.

    9. Be Optimistic

    This is probably one you have heard time and time again.

    When we suggest to have a positive attitude it does not mean to fake it until you make it, nor to conceal your feelings. This is not the case in this situation. Overall, you want to try to be authentic in how you are feeling, because life will throw curve balls that are beyond our control.

    10. Be Sensitive to Cultural Norms

    Whenever you are around other people within a professional workspace, do not make assumptions in trying to figure people out in an instant.

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    Some cultures discourage physical contact, while others may be inviting. Always be courteous, respectful and ask questions. It will not only make you more aware of others’ needs, but show that you are considerate of the differences.

    You do not want to get off on the wrong foot by being too friendly or too touchy. Just observe how people respond to your approach and let them lead the way of what is a safe practice to meet and greet the first time around.

    11. Show Professionalism

    How you interact and carry yourself around others will be the difference between a job promotion or losing your job. No matter what, always respectful and professional towards others.

    You will have an opportunities in life and at work, so showcase an outpouring of great and positive energy in the face of adversity.

    12. Get Involved with Activities

    When you are part of a company, there are often opportunities for organized activities outside of the office space.

    Sometimes it is worth exploring uncharted terrain and to get to know people in a different environment. Plus, you will have an opportunity to be seeing in a different light.

    Even though you are off the clock, keep your professional tenure and set boundaries. You want to be vulnerable, but not put yourself in a comprising position. Use your intuition and common sense to evaluate these situations.

    13. Get to Know Your Company

    With your smartphone or your laptop, you have at your fingertips a mine of information online. Just as you would do before a job interview, conduct ample research to get familiarized with what your company does and how its branding is perceived via the media or social networks.

    Rather than just focusing on doing your job and fulfilling the duties, see what the business is up to. It is fundamental to really know what organization you belong to. Get educated on what other ventures they are involved with as well as the ones that you are directly in the know about.

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    14. Learn to Problem Solve

    Problem solving is going to be a skill you will acquire with experience and by making mistakes. Furthermore, not only will you make mistakes but you will likely also sometimes fail. This is okay and is part of the natural swing of things!

    Learn to take responsibility for your actions and decisions. At the same time, do not blame others for coming up short. When you come forward with the truth and responsibility, your supervisors or superiors will take notice of your authenticity.

    One of the greatest gifts in life is fail and once you experience you start to get a different perspective on how to move forward at the job.

    15. Do Some Prospecting

    If you have coding, computer, language or other beneficial skills, be sure to pitch these at the right time.

    When you start out new at a company it is best not to show all your cards. It is like poker: don’t let others see if you believe you have the upper hand. Take time to get familiarized with your company and organization before promoting your outside skillset.

    You will know when to put forward your amazing talents, so proceed with caution.

    Conclusion

    Learning to refine your interpersonal skills is a lifelong process. In time, you will also became more effective and skillful after accumulating work-related experiences.

    Exert humility, understanding, compassion, and mindfulness and the rewards will come!

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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