A cover letter is absolutely essential in finding the job you want. There’s no question about the fact that there will be plenty of people with a similar CV – you’d need similar levels of education and experience to apply for the same job. However, the cover letter is your chance to really make an impression. You can show your passion, enthusiasm, and even some of your personality in this letter. As you only really have this one chance at a first impression with most HR managers, it is important to stand out from the crowd and avoid the 8 mistakes listed below.
1. Looking Unprofessional
This means paying attention to font, using proper colours, and checking that your email address reflects your professional persona. If you have an immature email address, register for a new one and make sure that’s the one on your CV.
2. Failing to Use the Right Format
This is a letter, and so it should look like a letter, with an addressee, a return address, and a date. It shouldn’t look like you’ve printed an email, it should very obviously be in letter format, and addressed to the specific employer, with the name of the HR manager if you know it.
3. Not Sending a Plain Text Version of Your Letter
You might have some cool graphics, logos, or banners on your cover letter, but you do not know whether or not your employer is using an automatic resume scanner – at which point your fancy elements will become a jumbled mess. Keep things simple to ensure there’s no margin for technical error.
4. Not Paying Attention to Editing or Proofreading
When you’ve spent hours working on a cover letter, it’s easy to assume that your effort will have resulted in the perfect piece of writing. However, this is rarely the case, and many people submit their cover letters without properly proofreading, only to later spot mistakes and errors that look sloppy. You need to appear as competent as possible, and avoid any mistakes at such a crucial time. Fortunately, there are some online tools that can be a huge help when it comes to proofreading or editing your text.
- Ginger is a great app that improves your writing in a holistic way, by checking spelling, grammar, and even offering to translate or read aloud what you’ve written.
- Hemingway App is a tool that many writers rely on to strengthen their content and pick up on mistakes that a person might not notice.
- Readability Score monitors the level of your writing, which is essential if you’re applying for a high level position and want to be sure that your cover letter isn’t too simple,
- Paper Fellows helps with getting started, which is often the hardest part of writing. This is made easy with all of the advice and support available in the forums here.
5. Failing to Provide an Example for Everything
If you want to say that you have a skill on your cover letter, then you need to provide some sort of evidence to back up your claims. You can’t just ask an employer to believe you when you say you have skills, experience, or competencies – back this up with examples, experiences, or qualifications.
6. Including Filler Content
You may be worried that your letter isn’t long enough, and be tempted to pad it out with extra words and phrases and complicated sentences – this is a bad idea. A HR Manager doesn’t have time to try and find the good parts of your letter, they should be obvious.
7. Sending the Same Letter to Every Employer
It is imperative to get specific about each job if you want to stand a chance competing against other qualified applicants.
8. Be Clear
When applying online, make sure every file includes your full name, explain job titles, and make sure your email matches your name. Explain any lapses in time between work, and use a structure that is easy to follow.
Writing a cover letter is a stressful time, but avoiding the above mistakes can help boost your confidence and your chances of success.