So you’re ready to start applying to jobs. You’ve updated your resume, spread the word to those that you know that you are on the hunt and bookmarked job search websites. Before taking the plunge and applying to any job, take a second and consider your cover letter. Most of the time, the cover letter is the first thing a prospective employer will see and it can make or break you. A well-written, concise, engaging cover letter will entice an employer to check out your application. A poorly written, unprofessional cover letter will most likely have them brushing you off without a second glance. Here’s a list of what to avoid in your cover letter.
Not writing enough. Or writing too much.
Cover letters are usually meant as an opener for your accomplishments and qualifications. You will want to include why you are a good fit for the position and what makes you think you will succeed with this specific company. Seeing as hiring mangers are very busy people, they will most likely not want to read a very long cover letter, so try to keep it to 2-3 paragraphs maximum.
Failing to personalize.
In the day of Google and the internet, finding out the name of a company’s hiring manager is easier than ever. Starting off with, “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” is impersonal and you never know if the person you are addressing is male of female. If you cannot find the recruiter’s information, use a gender-neutral greeting like “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Writing the same cover letter for all employers.
This may be one of the more important things in terms of what to avoid in a cover letter. It is true that sending the same cover letter to every employer will save you time, but it only takes writing the wrong job title or company name once, for an employer to toss your application in the trash. Try to customize each cover letter specifically for each company. It will show the hiring manager that you’ve made an effort to learn more about company and their mission.
Including personal information.
Personal information such as age, marital status, age, religion should not only be kept out of your resume, but your cover letter as well. It has no place in either unless you feel this information pertains to the position you are applying to.
Having too many typos or spelling/grammatical errors will definitely raise a red flag for the employer. Even the most qualified of candidates can be pushed aside for these types of mistakes. It’s easy to overlook errors here and there, especially when sending out multiple cover letters at the same time. In these cases, make sure to have someone on hand who can help you edit and look over your work.