A well-written cover letter will greatly increase your chances of impressing a hiring manager and earning you an interview. Conversely, a poorly-written cover letter will ensure you miss out on quality job opportunities.
Make sure you avoid these six common cover letter mistakes if you want an interview.
1. Poor Grammar and Spelling
Poor grammar and spelling are one of the more common cover letter mistakes. You could be highly educated and possess relevant work experience, but if your cover letter is riddled with errors, you can be sure you will never earn and interview.
Fortunately, this mistake is one of the easiest to solve. Take the time to read and review your cover letter before submitting it. Use your word processor’s “read aloud” function to listen for spelling or grammatical faults. Or, have someone with editing or writing experience review it with you.
2. Improper Formatting
Regardless of the industry or type of job, most cover letters have a universal format. Unfortunately, many people do not follow that format and cost themselves a job.
Include your contact information (including address, email, and phone number) at the top of your cover letter. Also, keep your letter to one page. It should not be more than a few paragraphs long.
3. Repeating Your Resume
Too many applicants use their cover letter as just a further repetition of the information in their resume. The recruiter or hiring manager can see where you went to school and where you worked, so do not waste what little space you have repeating that information.
The key elements of your cover letter should explain things like gaps in employment or specific accomplishments that you did not have room to include in your resume.
4. Forgetting a Call to Action
Imagine if a salesperson at the end of a sale’s call did not ask the potential customer if he or she wanted to purchase the service or product the salesperson was just describing. The salesperson would not have many sales.
A lot of cover letters forget to include a “so what” at the end. Do not make that mistake. Thank the reader for his or her time and express your interest in hearing from him or her about scheduling an interview. It may seem subtle, but a killer call to action makes your cover letter more active and less passive.
5. Overly Generic Cover Letter
Your cover letter should not only be tailored to the job you are applying for, but also, should reflect the employer. Remember, a standard format does not mean standard content.
Many applicants fail to do their homework and present a cover letter that makes it seem like they know nothing about the position or company. For example, many will address their letter to “whom it may concern” when the name of the hiring manager is included with the job posting. Avoid this pitfall by doing a little research.
6. Failing to Follow Instructions
Many job postings tell an applicant exactly what information to include in a cover letter, how long it should be, and other particular details. Despite these instructions, many applicants will fail to follow them. Make sure to read the entire posting to see if there is anything specific you should do to your cover letter before you click submit.
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