Your cover letter is one of the most important documents you will write in your job search. Some argue that it’s equally as important as the resume. Of course, every job will place a different amount of weight on the cover letter, but however important the cover letter is to an employer, there are some mistakes that you absolutely should not make. Here are some of the common pitfalls to avoid when writing your letter.
Mistake – Bad spelling or grammar
This mistake is the most common, and what makes it so grievous is the fact that it’s completely avoidable. There is no excuse for bad spelling or grammar in a cover letter. If you’re not sure it’s perfect, have someone read over your work before you send it. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression, and grammar mistakes in a cover letter tell an employer that you aren’t paying attention at best, and that you’re uneducated at worst.
Mistake – “To Whom It May Concern”
While some form letters are written very well, they won’t really help you show that you’ve done your research on the company. Never let your cover letter be generic. Use a last name in your address if at all possible. The ‘To Whom it May Concern” intro just shows you don’t know how to pick up a phone and call to see who the hiring manager is, or you don’t know how to use Google. If you absolutely cannot find the name of a person in the company, make sure the address at least fits the position. For example, if you’re applying for a sales job, try “Sales Team Hiring Manager”.
Mistake – Using the company to further your own goals
Remember, employers want to know how you will be an asset to the company, not the other way around. Don’t use your cover letter to explain how the company will help you achieve your dreams of being a clerical assistant. Explain how your particular skill set will increase productivity, and how your work in the past has demonstrated this.
Mistake – Leaving it all up to the employer
Don’t end your cover letter with a line like “I hope to hear from you soon.” This takes things out of your hands. You want full control over the situation. Instead, say something like “I will email again on X day to arrange an interview.” If you’re not bold enough for this, at least make a commitment to follow up with the employer. Just be sure that if you set up a time for follow up, you comply without fail.
Mistake – Ignoring the job posting
The job posting ad may have important instructions about how to submit a resume, and what needs to be included. If you ignore the ad, you run the risk of missing critical information, and having even a perfectly written cover letter ignored.