It’s a relatively simple process, yet so many people just totally miss their mark! Rather than go on about everything that you should do, it may be easier for me to list the common errors as things to avoid. Don’t expect to get a call from a recruiter or perspective employer if you have any of these errors in your letter. The time you out into your cover letter can really pay off - just stay away from these common mistakes.
Mistake #1: Use the cover letter to reiterate your resume. Why bother with a cover letter if it’s just a repeat of the next page? Your cover letter needs to introduce you and list the key details that make you a great candidate for the position. It’s OK to list an item or two that may be on your resume – but no more than that!
Mistake #2: Typing and grammar errors will kill your interview potential every time. A cover letter is no different than a resume. Even though you scour your resume for errors, make sure you put the same effort into your cover letter. Make sure you have everything correct before you send it in.
Mistake #3: Using a mass-produced cover letter. Believe me, when you see as many cover letters as I do, it becomes very obvious when a cover letter was “mass produced”. By Mass produced, I mean that the candidate is sending the same cover letter to every potential employer. DON’T DO THIS. You want your letter to be personalized and directly tied to your abilities and why they fit this specific job. The more specifics you can list about the job, the better. It shows you care enough about the opportunity to have done additional reasearch .
Mistake #4: Make your cover letter waaaaaaaaay toooooooo looooooong. All you need for a good introduction is two-three paragraphs on a page. That’s it. Keep in mind that the interviewer could have a hundred resumes to go through they aren’t going to read any more than that.
Mistake #5: Use a format that’s difficult to read. A letter with no bullet points, long paragraphs, small fonts, etc. make it easy to set your resume off to the side. Use a common font for business writing, such as Times New Roman 12 and think about using bullet points to break up a paragraph to get your key points across clearly and concisely.
Mistake #6: Forget to list the position you are applying for and why you are applying. This is a very common mistke and can often be tied to a mass produced cover letter. This letter is your introduction. Don’t forget to explain why you are being introduced! If you’re applying to a large company and you don’t include the simple facts, they may not know which of the 20 open positions you are applying for. We don’t want any reason for that person to do the dreaded “Set You To The Side For Later Review” move!
Start your application process with good cover letter that has all the right pieces in all the right places. Once you’ve done that, your cover letter will get you in front of an interviewer who has read your resume and wants to truly find out if you are the right person for the job.