Even though writing business letters is considered by some to be an ancient art, it is a form of communication that you should become acquainted with should you ever become serious about submitting a resume for employment.
Cover letters usually accompany each resume that is sent out and are so important that they can be the determining factor when it comes to getting the job you want or ending up at the bottom of the resume pile.
Cover Letter Mistakes
Many people consider writing a cover letter a daunting task. In fact, many impressive resumes get glossed over because of the sub-par cover letters to which they are attached. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when composing your cover letter:
- Mistake #1 – Not fixing typos and grammatical errors. One obvious and fatal mistake that applicants continuously make is not adequately proofreading their cover letter. The cover letter is the first document a potential employee will see and errors in your composition form a perception about your character and abilities, or lack thereof. The best way to avoid this mistake is to have somebody else proofread your letter after you have gone over it. Sometimes it takes a second set of eyes to catch mistakes you may have missed.
- Mistake #2 – Using a one-size-fits-all letter. You should prepare a different cover letter for every company that you are submitting resumes to. Employers are looking for employment candidates who stand out from the crowd and who can address the particular needs of their company. Applicants that use cookie-cutter cover letters will simply blend in with the others in the applicant pool. Make your resume shine by attaching it to a personalized cover letter that lets your potential employer know that you are interested in addressing their specific problems.
- Mistake #3 – Omitting the cover letter. Some people are so intimidated by writing the cover letter that they choose to simply leave them off. While it is true that some employers don’t value cover letters as much as others, how do you know which ones they are? Serious applicants cover this base by submitting cover letters with every resumes. Play it safe and consider the cover letter a non-negotiable piece of documentation.
- Mistake #4 – Writing a letter that is the improper length. Many applicants go to one extreme or the other when preparing their cover letters. It is not appropriate to have a cover letter that is only one or two sentences. Nor is it proper to attach a novella to your resume. As a rule, the cover letter should be one page only. Employers simply don’t have time to read anything longer. Three or four paragraphs that are direct and concisely-written will win over a cover letter that is lengthy, random, and wordy.
- Mistake #5 – Not being proactive. It seems natural to end a letter by saying that you look forward to being called in for an interview, but this leaves the ball in the employer’s court. It is a much more effective strategy to end the letter with a request for an interview and a statement letting the employer know that you will contact them within a specified time period to set it up. This action conveys confidence and self-assuredness. By taking a proactive approach and following up as stated in your letter, you are much more likely to get the opportunity for a face-to-face interview.
A cover letter is the tool that basically introduces you to a potential employer. And a good cover letter will lead the employers to seriously review your resume. Increase your chances of landing the job by avoiding these common cover letter mistakes.