Writing a cover letter can be a long and sometimes difficult process. There’s a lot involved in creating a really good one that will maximize your benefit from having a cover letter, but really all of it is necessary. Having the right one will make your search all the easier, and to help you avoid spoiling an otherwise excellent cover letter and ruining all your hard work, I’ve made a list of the 3 most common mistakes people make when they write their cover letter.
1) First off, spelling and grammar errors will absolutely murder your chances and show no regret for doing so. Employers hunger for professionalism and dedication in their applicants, both of which fly out the window when you goof on spelling or miss a typo when you proofread. Most word processors have a spell check feature these days, so use it and watch for words that are spelled correctly but used in the wrong context. One such instance that seems to plague society today is the misuse of “your” and “you’re.” Avoid that sort of thing…it makes you appear ignorant and lazy, which isn’t going to make employers come beating down your door.
If you’re not great with grammar, I suggest you find somebody who is and have that person proofread for you. This is really entirely too important to let there be any chance at all that you goofed somewhere. It’s not uncommon for an applicant to be completely dropped because of a single spelling error, so don’t let that happen to you.
2) A lot of people make the grave error of writing up one cover letter that’s pretty generic and sending it off to a bunch of possible employers. This is utter fallacy. If you type up one cover letter that has no individual relation towards the company you’re looking into, and send it to a dozen different employers, you’ll get a dozen different “no thank you, we’ll keep your application on file” reply letters.
The people to whom you’re sending these cover letters are businesspeople…they want employees who are intelligent and dedicated, who don’t do things halfway and say “ok, I’m done.” They need employees who will do what it takes to get the job done, who aren’t afraid of a little work. Those sorts of people will enhance their businesses and be worth their payroll. Show that you’re one of those people by doing your homework on the company and preparing a cover letter that addresses the needs of that particular company and how you can not only meet but also rise above those requirements. It’s a little extra work, but it can be the difference between getting that job and staying on the hunt for another three months while your fridge keeps emptying.
3) Another really common problem people have is that they use their cover letter as simply a rewrite of their resume in letter form. This is not only completely unnecessary, it also wastes preciously valuable space in your cover letter. A cover letter should only be about a page long, no more…3 paragraphs is the standardly recognized “correct length.” Don’t waste that space recovering what’s easily found in your resume!
Use that space to a much greater advantage. Sure, you can list some job experience, but make absolutely positive that they’re very relevant to the job. Remember, you’re not just spewing out your job history, you’re telling the employer why you’d be an asset to the company. If you’re applying for a job at a paper factory, don’t waste the employer’s time and your precious cover letter space telling about your three years running the counter at the nearest PDQ.
Well, those are a few of the top mistakes people tend to come across when they’re preparing their cover letters…that’s by no means a comprehensive list of every single possible error, but they’re the big ones. Stay on the lookout for other mistakes, but make sure to avoid these at all costs.