Your cover letter is the first – and only – chance you have to grab a resume screener’s attention.
A cover letter is how you introduce yourself to the company you want to work with, but it should also clearly tell the person reading it why they should consider your resume. Here are our top six suggestions for avoiding cover letter disasters:
You fail to address what the employer is looking for. Any reputable company will have a posted job ad for the position they seek to fill. It’s your job to address their needs in your cover letter. If the company is looking for a self-starter with excellent communication skills, make sure you address both items in your cover letter.
You omit the best parts. Writing a strong cover letter can be intimidating and it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed. Don’t let the cover letter get the best of you! Take your time when crafting it so you don’t forget to include your best skills. The hiring manager doesn’t know you and he’s staring down hundreds of other emails with more cover letters to read. Show off your strengths.
Repetition is a bad idea: avoid repetition. Don’t make your cover letter a copy of your resume. The purpose of the cover letter is to introduce yourself and make the screener want to read your resume. If you simply rehash your resume, you’re not telling the screener why you want to work for his company.
Don’t be generic. Template cover letters easily flagged. Seasoned resume screeners can spot them faster than you can spell your own name. Your cover letter should be specific to the job and company you’re applying for. Avoid generic statements and clearly spell out why the screener should move your application forward.
You don’t acknowledge the reader. A simple way to get noticed in your cover letter is to acknowledge and thank the person reading it for his time to consider you for the position. This is a polite gesture that most people don’t include in a cover letter. This great way to start your cover letter if you’re stuck on creating a good opening sentence.
Letter is too long or too short. Your cover letter should be at least ¾ of a page. It should not spill to a second page. If it’s too short, it can give the impression you don’t have anything to say. If it’s too long, it likely won’t be read.
Looking for more cover letter tips? Check out the Cover Letter Help section.
Are you guilty of any of these cover letter mistakes?
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