You’ve sent your resume through the proper channels to make sure it’s ready to go for your next job application, but what about the cover letter? Contrary to what you might hear, the cover letter is not a sign of the past. In fact, the majority of employers prefer receiving a cover letter paired with resumes.
However, this doesn’t mean you should haphazardly throw together a few sentences and send it off. Be strategic in creating your resume and help your job application stand out by avoiding these common cover letter mistakes.
Lack of Personalization
Do your homework. Find out information about the company and recruiter whenever you can and use it to your advantage when creating your cover letter. Write with the company’s culture in mind and include customized information whenever it makes sense to. Not including any personalization sends the message that you couldn’t be bothered to create something specifically for the job application. It proves it’s not important enough for you to go the extra step. And what recruiter or hiring manager wants that?
Forgetting Employer’s Needs
It’s important to tout your abilities, but don’t make it all about you. You want to showcase what you can bring to the company and the job itself by tying in your experience with their needs. Keep the employer’s needs in mind first and explain what’s in it for them by choosing you. If you consider your cover letter as a sales pitch, think of what pain point you will solve for the employer.
Repeating Entire Resume
If the recruiter or hiring manager wanted to hear about past employers and your experience, they could look at your resume. Cover letters give you the real estate to stand out from the myriad of resumes and cover letters recruiters or hiring managers receive on a daily basis. Don’t waste this opportunity by providing the same information they can find in your resume. Recruiters tend to look at the resume first and decide whose cover letter to read based on that. If you rehash what they’ve already seen, you run the risk of boring the employer and coming across as unimpressive.
This shows a lack of attention to detail, which is not a great first impression when applying for a job. You could be competing against a large talent pool of applicants, so the littlest typo might send you to the recycle bin. Spell check and autocorrect are great tools, but they don’t replace human editing. Do yourself a favor, proof your cover letter and then proof it again.
In a job description, sometimes employers will request certain information to be included in a cover letter. For example, an employer might ask you to explain a specific type of job situation you faced in the past and how you responded to it. The last thing you want to do is ignore what they are asking for or choose not to include it. They will assume you are unable to follow directions and are nowhere close to detail-oriented.
Recruiters spend about 7 seconds looking at a resume before deciding about the quality of a potential job candidate. So, the chances they look at a cover letter any longer than that is slim-to-none, which is why you need to write concisely. Include information that conveys only what you need to. Also, when it comes to aesthetics, make it easy to read by placing enough space between lines, so the text isn’t crunched.
When was the last time you sent a cover letter or read a cover letter that caught your attention? What was it about that cover letter that left an impression? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out 10 Things Recruiters Look for In a Job Candidate.