How To Fix The Top 10 Cover Letter Mistakes You're Making
Whether you’re looking to enter the job market as a full-time employee or applying to an internship, a cover letter is an absolute must-have when you are sending in your resume for consideration (unless a company explicitly stated otherwise).
However, there are mistakes that often occur when people are writing their cover letters; here is a list of the most common cover letter mistakes and how to fix or avoid them.
1. No Cover Letter. This is one of the most common cover letter mistakes people make. Unless the company you are applying to specifically requests applicants not send a cover letter in with their resume, a cover letter is needed. This problem has an easy solution: write a cover letter.
2. Using a Generic Cover Letter. Using one general cover letter to send to each potential employer is lazy and shows you probably didn’t follow the directions, as many companies ask you to answer specific questions in your cover letter.
Also, by using a generic cover letter, you don’t personalize your skills or mention the specific company. Having a rough cover letter template to use and personalize for each job is a much better way of ensuring your resume is taken seriously and is a great way of avoiding this cover letter mistake.
3. Failing to Personalize. Whenever and wherever possible, personalize your cover letter. Refer to the specific company you are applying to by name and don’t just address your cover letter “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam.” By personalizing your letter, you show you have done your research into the company and know who will be considering your application, which is a subtle and good way of coming across as competent and detail-oriented.
4. Having Grammatical or Spelling Errors. These common cover letter mistakes can be avoided by proofreading, which is one of the most important things you can do before sending a professional letter in for consideration. Rereading your own work can help you catch mistakes you missed the first time around and spot places to tighten your writing.
Also, writing in Microsoft Word or another writing application that has a spellcheck function is crucial as it will highlight for you where your spelling has gone awry. Lastly, check your grammar or ask a knowledgeable friend or family member to read it over for grammatical errors.
5. Hogging the Spotlight. Don’t use your cover letter to just talk all about you; while this may seem counter-intuitive, potential employers want to read about what you will bring to their company. So talk about your skills and accomplishments by writing how they would act as an advantage for you and be a benefit to the business if you’re hired by their company.
6. Summarizing Your Resume. Contrary to popular belief, a cover letter does not just consist of restating the contents of your resume. The cover letter should provide a more in-depth look into who the company may be hiring if they employed you and you do that by talking about how your past employment experiences and skills would make you a good fit for the job (refer to #3).
7. Handwriting a Half-Assed Cover Letter. Writing a cover letter does not mean just scribbling a quick note or sticky to include before your resume in your application. A cover letter has specific formatting and expectations that come with it and should never be handwritten–only typed.
8. Formatting Incorrectly. Your cover letter is a document being used to further your professional aspirations and should look like such. Your margins, font, font size, spacing, etc. should reflect that and relay to your potential employer that you take your job search seriously. Find a cover letter template structure you want to use and follow its layout when writing your own cover letter.
9. Sounding Desperate. While of course you want to be hired, you don’t want to come across as desperate for employment to companies. Do this by coming across as confident in both your abilities and their fit for the job you are applying for. Be concise and clear in your writing and while you don’t want to hog the spotlight too much, you do want to make it clear in your cover letter that reading your resume wouldn’t be a waste of time and considering you for the position would be worthwhile as well.
10. Missing Information. Some of the most common cover letter mistakes are actually information left off of the cover letter. Failing to include your contact information or your signature could make the difference between getting a job offer or having your application end up in the “rejected” pile. Your cover letter and resume could get separated so it’s imperative you include contact information, like your email address and phone number, on your cover letter.
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