Most people focus on their resume when they are looking for a new job. Often, the cover letter gets only a little thought, leading it to be pulled together at the last minute. Regardless of the strength of your resume, not giving comparable attention to your cover letter is a mistake.
Certain issues in a cover letter can lead to a candidate being removed from consideration before the resume has even been glanced over. Before you rush through the creation of your next cover letter, make sure you review for the following common issues.
Introducing Yourself by Name First
You cover letter should not include the statement, “My name is…” It is simply unnecessary. Your resume has your name on it, as well as the sign-off of your cover letter. Since that information is thoroughly covered, use your cover letter to cover more pertinent information. Lead off with a relevant qualification or accomplishment that applies to the job for which you are applying.
Summarizing Your Entire Resume
Your resume and cover letter should work in conjunction, not to restate one another. While your resume provides a reliable overview of your experience, your cover letter should focus on only a few examples as to why you are a good fit for the position. Take the opportunity to dig in a little deeper that helps a recruiter understand how your experience can translate to a positive change at their company.
While your cover letter should contain some details, there is a point where it becomes too much. You want to keep your cover letter within one page, and it should take no more than around a minute to read through. It is also important to be concise and remain on-point. Don’t include any information that isn’t necessary.
For example, if you are applying for a job in Michigan because you are relocating next month, but your current contact information says Florida, you may want to mention your scheduled arrival to the city. However, there is no need to give details about why you are moving if they are not relevant to the position.
Not Using a Targeted Cover Letter
Your cover letter should be as targeted to the position as your resume. Sending generic form letters can make a negative impression, as it can appear as though writing a new cover letter wasn’t a priority or that this one was simply an afterthought. Take time to make sure the cover letter includes the pertinent details that particular hiring manager would want to know.
Similarly, you should avoid using generic greetings. The time of, “To Whom It May Concern,” and, “Dear Sir or Madam,” are over. If you have the name of the hiring manager in question, feel free to address them personally. If you don’t, skip the formal salutation and begin immediately with your first paragraph. The second option is particularly acceptable with email cover letters, as people rarely address one another formally when using the email format.
Spelling and Grammar
It is easy to spend so much time focusing on the content that you overlook simple spelling or grammar errors. Remember, word processing software does not catch every error you may have made. Be aware of homonyms and make sure you use proper punctuation. Spelling or grammar errors reflect poorly on a candidate’s written communication skills, as well as their attention to detail. Giving your cover letter a careful review can help avoid the kind of mistakes that may remove you from contention.
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