Your cover letter is a hugely important tool in your job search arsenal. After all, it’s usually the first thing a potential employer reads about you and it almost always precedes your resume.
A cover letter is like a friend you have who takes all the awkwardness out of an introduction by going out there and doing all the work for you.
If a cover letter is so important, why is it that so many job seekers neglect their cover letters? Oftentimes, it’s clear that an author didn’t spend enough time writing their cover letter. When that happens, it sails right into the circular filing cabinet.
Check out these six mistakes to not put in your next cover letter:
Okay! Admittedly, you aren’t going to purposely put typos in your cover letter. However, when you don’t proofread your cover letter, you’re almost asking for typos to slip by. When you write a cover letter, proof read it, ask your friend/roommate/boyfriend/stranger to proofread it, and then proofread it again. Typos are hilarious, but only when they happen to someone else.
Your cover letter is a great opportunity to show an employer you’re very interested in the position. It is not, however, the time for you to beg for a job. The most appealing job candidate is someone who is qualified, interested in the job, but has other companies who would love to hire them.
3. That vague, generic feeling
I completely understand if you’re on your 90th resume. It gets tiring, who wants to personalize every letter? It makes a huge difference. Spend extra time on each cover letter so that the employer knows that they’re being addressed, not just anyone.
4. Threats/Outlandish promises
You might not think that you’re threatening an employer, but if you write something like “If you don’t hire me, your company will fail,” you’re going in a bad direction. Likewise with outlandish promises, such as, “With me as your intern, your company will beat all competition within a week.” Instead of telling an employer what will happen when you’re hired, focus on your achievements and connecting them to what you can do for the company.
5. “Dear Sir (or Madame)”
Just like that vague, generic feeling I discussed earlier, not specifying a single person lowers your chances of moving to the next step exponentially. “Sir or Madame” sounds so fancy, but it’s really saying that you were too lazy to look up their names. Try Google.
6. A second page
Last, but not least, your cover letter does not need a second page. If you find that you’re writing multiple pages of a cover letter, it’s too much. A strong cover letter is between three and five paragraphs. The letter serves as a short and sweet introduction, anything longer is boring and will be passed over.
What other things should job seekers keep out of their cover letters?
For more on cover letters, check out How To Start Your Cover Letter with a Bang!
Gerrit Hall is the CEO and co-founder of RezScore, a free web application that reads, analyzes, and grades resumes – instantly. Gerrit has successfully combined his passion for computer science and the careers space by helping job seekers write the best resume possible. You can connect with Gerrit and RezScore on Twitter.
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