A good cover letter is essential to make a good first impression on a prospective employer. The best of resumes can be ruined by a poorly written cover letter and can end up in the trash bin instead of the interview pile.
With trillion of emails exchanged daily across the world, you probably have only a few seconds to get make an impression.
Make an impact by avoiding these 8 common cover letter mistakes:
1. Attaching the cover letter
Most employers won’t bother to go that extra mile at this stage. Make things easier by avoiding the download conundrum. Paste your cover letter in the main body of the email to prevent this.
2. Writing your life story
The employer is not interested in your life’s story. Keep the cover letter brief – three to four paragraphs at most – and ensure that it relates to the post you are applying for. Don’t bother highlighting skills unrelated to the post you are applying for. The idea is to pique interest, not lose it.
3. Excluding information specifically asked for
If the employer has asked for a sample of work, portfolio or hours of availability, make sure you address them all in the cover letter. It is important to follow instructions and acknowledge the employer’s requirements. Your cover letter must specifically highlight the items listed in the job posting.
4. Generic addressing
Try not to begin your cover letter with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom it May Concern’. Show the employer your interest in the job by making the effort of finding out their names and designations. All you need to do is research the company’s website or call the office.
5. Experimenting with formatting
There’s no call for showcasing any kind of creativity in the cover letter. Your motto should be: The simpler, the better. Choose common fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman, avoid bold colors and steer clear of unnecessary punctuation. Refrain from using emoticons or any kind of slang language – this creates the impression that you are not professional or serious about the job.
6. Spelling and grammatical errors
Sending a cover letter with typos or grammatical errors may mean the end of your job quest at that particular company. This error demonstrates a lack of preparation and seriousness on your part. Use spell check before shooting off the email. You could also ask friends and family members to review the letter for errors and to check the flow of information.
7. Excuses of any kind
Your cover letter should not be used to lay the ground for any shortfalls on your resume. Employers want to read about your skills, education and work experience, not the reason why you don’t have them.
8. Using a boring closing statement
It is a good idea to close the cover letter with a statement that stays with the employer. Overdoing it by saying something such as ‘don’t delay, call right away’ is an absolute no. However, a little boldness is always appreciated.
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