Mistakes to Always Avoid When Writing a Cover Letter

Mistakes to Always Avoid When Writing a Cover Letter

Looking to apply for a new job? One critical aspect of obtaining this goal is perfecting the cover letter.  The perfect cover letter could mean the difference between hearing, “When can you start?” and falling victim to human resources obscurity.

Many professionals may have the necessary skills to deserve consideration for a position. However, far too many of them fall victim to these cover letter mistakes; these mistakes undermine their ability to properly entice hiring managers to their credentials and experience. Recognize these snafus in principle, and begin the process of perfecting your own cover letter.

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A good cover letter will intrigue the hiring manager into reading your CV

Addressing your cover letter reader generically

“Dear Sir” is out of the question in modern business practice. Similarly, “To whom it may concern” suggests that you didn’t think it was important enough to try to identify the person in charge of the hiring search. It may be difficult to identify the correct person to address your letter, but you should make the effort to identify a name to include.

Contact the company to ask for the correct name or use your research skills to see if you can confirm a specific person to send your letter. As a last resort, “Dear Hiring Manager” may be a sufficient measure if the company has gone to great lengths to shield the exact name of the hiring manager from the applicant pool.

General template cover letters
Another huge mistake that many applicants unknowingly make is that they do not target their cover letter to the particular job and company in which they are applying to. Rather, many use a general cover letter template that they have used in a multitude of applications; they simply cut and paste the job position and the employer where appropriate.

There are two serious problems with this approach. First, the employer can see this cut and paste method from a mile away, and they may construe this as a sign that you’re not really interested in the position. Second, there is no matching of the appropriate skill set and experience to what they posted as wanting or requiring for their company. Take the time to customize each cover letter based on the job descriptions provided by the company.

Using the cover letter to repeat everything in the resume.
Don’t just summarize your resume in your cover letter. Take the chance to make direct connections between the stated job description and your professional skills. Consider creating three headlines based on information in the job description the employer wants and listing under each topic why you are a good fit. The more you can make a direct correlation between their needs and what you can offer, the more your application will stand out.

Including a head shot

This one may come as a surprise to some, but including a photo on a cover letter is a general no-no. While it may be acceptable to attach a studio-quality photo on other documents, such as CV, do not do the same with a cover letter. According to Tyson Spring, senior consultant at Elever Professional, this is seen as a tacky faux pas- even in industries such as real estate or banking. Stick to the written word on cover letters.

Providing unsolicited salary requirements

While the discussion of salary is important, an applicant should never bring up this topic first. Unless specifically asked to do so in a job description, wait until you are offered the position- or asked in an interview- to bring up wage details. This is particularly important if there is a disparity between what is advertised or indicated in the job listing and what you as a candidate are requiring.

Lack of contact information
Vital to any employer being able to contact you is having your contact information. It is important to put your information not just on your resume, but on every document sent to a potential employer. These documents can get separated.

You would think that it would be simple enough to connect the name on your cover letter with that of a resume. But remember that there may be hundreds of applicants managers are reviewing. If it takes too much time or effort to find out basic information, it’s likely your application can get lost in the shuffle. Make sure to include a few different means of contact. Each employer may prefer one method over another.

A strong cover letter can go a long way in promoting your professional brand. Avoid these common cover letter mishaps, and you’ll be one step closer to achieving your new gainful employment.


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