If you think recruiters don't have the time to properly read your cover letter, you'd be surprised. In fact, a cover letter says a lot about a person — after screening the resumes of potential candidates, hiring managers usually turn to cover letters to see if a candidate will fit into the company’s culture and whether their competencies match with those the business is seeking. Here are six of the most common cover letter mistakes to avoid if you want to pass the initial screening and improve your chances of being considered for a position.
1. The Art of Errors
Believe it or not, recruiters still receive cover letters marred by a vast number of errors. Be it grammar, style, or spelling, mistakes are simply unacceptable — if you want to make a good impression, spellcheck and then spellcheck again. Remember, though, this is just a tool, so make sure to reread your letter at least twice to spot any errors that have slipped through and to improve the overall style of your writing.
2. Don’t Go for Generic
Just to be clear — hiring managers can smell a generic cover letter from a mile off, so don't let this be how you represent yourself. If your letter sounds like it’s been sent off to every company, nobody will be impressed. Writing in accordance with the language of the job posting and mentioning the right skills and experiences will prove much more effective and informative for the recruiter!
3. Avoid Writing Too Much...
No recruiter wants to see a five-page-long cover letter. It's not impressive, it's just boring and inappropriate. Make sure the paragraphs of your letter aren’t too dense, either, otherwise they will simply be unreadable. Go for three to five paragraphs, six lines each.
4. Or Too Little!
Writing a short cover letter is far more common. A short cover letter sends the following message: I'm not really that interested in your company or the position you're offering, so I wanted to write this cover letter in under 10 minutes. This is certainly not the kind of impression you're going for if you're interested in the job, right? Provide enough information so that the employers are able to assess your competencies.
5. Don't Mix Up Your Facts
Strange, but still happens. If you address the letter to the wrong person or reference the wrong company in the body of the letter, you're in for trouble. If you're applying for many jobs at the same time, make sure to scan your cover letter for potential errors at least twice.
6. Be Concrete, Not Abstract
Writing about your accomplishments is not easy, but if you do it right, you stand a good chance of getting a job interview. That's why you always need to back up your claims with some concrete examples of projects you completed or roles you performed.
Writing a cover letter might seem like a piece of cake, but in fact it isn't. Put your best foot forward with these tips, and you'll have recruiters calling back, eager to find out more about what you can bring to their business.
Nicole Davies works at ShortCourseFinder, a website providing a simple way to find and sign up for online short courses from Australia’s top providers. Her areas of expertise and interest are social media and the use of new technologies in everyday life.