7 Essential Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Cover Letter
Crafting a cover letter for an application or resume is tricky. According to some reports, 90% of hiring managers, recruiters, and HR representatives don’t even read cover letters. At the same time, more than half (53%) of employers say they prefer candidates who present cover letters.
In other words, there is a good chance that no one will actually read your cover letter, but employers will likely form a more favorable opinion of you if you include one.
Even though it’s likely to go unread, it’s still important to be careful about what you write in your cover letter. There is always a chance that someone might actually read it, and it could set you apart from the other candidates that you are up against. And if someone is wavering on your application, a well-written cover letter could be what ultimately gets them to hire you.
When you are writing your cover letter, you definitely want to make sure it’s free from spelling errors, and you don’t want to use a form letter. But that’s not all you should take care of. There are a few other essential mistakes to avoid when writing a cover letter:
1. Using the Wrong Supplies
While a lot of companies ask that cover letters and resumes be submitted digitally, there are still many others that require hard copies.
When you need to print your cover letter, be sure to use the right supplies. If your inkjet cartridge is running low, pick up a new one to ensure that the text appears clear and crisp.
Use high-quality paper, too. Submitting a cover letter and resume on cheap paper printed with a nearly empty ink cartridge gives the impression that you are sloppy and don’t really care about the job—and that’s definitely not the impression that you want to make!
2. Focusing on Yourself Too Much
When a hiring manager is looking to fill a job vacancy, they aren’t looking for someone’s life story. They want to know what each candidate could potentially do for the company.
Sharing your accomplishments and skills is important, of course, but be sure to do so in a way that shows how they will help you help the company.
You also don’t want to go into every single detail about every job you’ve ever worked. Your resume should outline your past work experience. There’s no need to include every little detail in your cover letter, too.
Stick to highlighting the skills you’ve gained at past jobs that are more relevant to the position you are applying for.
3. Being Too Wordy
No hiring manager wants to be confronted with a novel-like cover letter. They don’t have time to read through several pages, nor do they have the desire to do so.
In fact, the majority of employers prefer that cover letters be half a page or less. Get to the point, and keep your cover letter concise.
4. Repeating Your Resume
It’s great if your cover letter briefly highlights some of your past experiences and the skills that you’ve gained that will help you be an excellent employee if hired by the company. It’s not so great, though, if your cover letter is a regurgitation of your resume.
Your cover letter should be a separate document that highlights your achievements and makes a hiring manager feel more inclined to hire you. If it just repeats the information found in your resume, it won’t do you any favors.
5. Using Clichés and Cringe-Worthy Phrases
Hiring managers, business owners, HR reps, and other people who are responsible for hiring new employees spend a lot of time reading resumes and cover letters. They see a lot of clichés and overused, cringe-worthy phrases that hopeful applicants think sound great but actually do nothing to set them apart from other candidates
If you want to write a cover letter that stands out and gets you noticed, skip phrases like “I believe that I am a perfect candidate for this position because …” or “I’d like to apply for a job at…”
Also, skip trite phrases like “team player” and “go-getter.” They are so overused that they have mostly lost their meaning.
Instead of telling someone that you’re a team player or a go-getter, show them by providing a concrete example of how you work well in a team or an instance in which you went above and beyond your responsibilities to get a job done.
6. Being a Super-fan
Your cover letter is a good place to let a hiring manager know that you do know something about the business and the position for where you are applying.
It is not, however, a place where you should profess your undying love for the company. A little bit of flattery is fine, but avoid going overboard.
Use your cover letter to showcase how you can serve the company and make the business even greater than it already is.
7. Not Editing Your Writing
Typos are a part of life. We all make them. That doesn’t mean, though, that you should leave them in your cover letter.
Before submitting a cover letter, always proofread it thoroughly. If possible, have a friend or family member look over it, too, to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Many great candidates get passed over every day because of simple things like typos. Keep your cover letter out of the trash can by taking the time to proofread.
Whether anyone ends up reading it or not, a good cover letter is important. By avoiding the common mistakes listed above, you can create a compelling cover letter that could set you apart from other candidates and help you land the job.