Avoiding Common Cover Letter Pitfalls

Avoiding Common Cover Letter Pitfalls

Understand the Goal of a Cover Letter

The goal of a cover letter is to draw attention to your resume and to spark an interest in the hiring manager or recruiter to read your resume. It should showcase your strongest qualifications and capture the hiring manager’s attention. A cover letter should be viewed as a quick “sales-pitch” to summarize a few key elements and demonstrate why the hiring manager should be interested in you, versus another candidate.

Making It Too Long

Keep the cover letter brief and to the point. Many professionals get so caught up in the details that they fail to explain who they are and why they should be considered—both key things that the cover letter should be used to do. Also, long cover letters can be overwhelming and easily forgotten. Keeping the cover letter to one page is the best way to ensure it gets read.

Including Too Much of You

The cover letter should be professional and should include enough about you to make it a compelling story. However, avoid providing too much personal information and keeping it focused on your qualifications for the job. If it begins to sound like a memoir, it’s time to dial it back and focus on the relevant qualifications and skills.

Not Tailoring It to the Job Description

Hiring managers are looking for someone who is obviously passionate and knowledgeable about the job they are offering. Make sure to include specific examples of skills, experience, and accomplishments that relate directly to the job when describing yourself. Create each cover letter with a specific job in mind.

Using the Wrong Tone

When deciding on a tone and addendum for your cover letter, err on the side of professionalism. Avoid using overly emotional language, as it will come across as unprofessional and can put a reader off. You want to remain rather formal and professional in the language you use, so keep the sentences short and straightforward to ensure your message comes across as you intend.

Spending Too Much Time on the Details

Although some details should be included to make the cover letter stand out, don’t spend too much time agonizing over things like font or design. Instead, use the cover letter to highlight memorable and impressive experiences or accomplishments that can give you an edge over other applicants.

Forgetting to Edit and Proofread

Proofreading is often looked over, but it is essential for creating a professional and polished cover letter. Have someone else read through it to check for typos, misspelled words, or grammatical errors. Read through it several times yourself, out loud if needed, to get a fresh perspective. The goal is to make sure your cover letter is as error-free as possible for a good impression.

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