Avoid These Common Mistakes on Your Cover Letter

John Krautzel
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Your cover letter and resume offer potential employers the first glimpse into your personality, skills and qualifications. Making a mistake on one of these documents may cost you the interview, dashing your chances of ever getting the job. Make sure you're not committing any of these common mistakes before you send out another cover letter.

1. Providing Too Much Detail

Your cover letter should be descriptive without going too far into detail. Rather than listing every job you have ever worked, focus on experiences and accomplishments that relate to the position for which you are applying. Keep your cover letter to less than one-half of a page.

2. Sounding Self-Absorbed

Do not make the mistake of focusing on yourself and explaining why you want the job. Instead, demonstrate what you can do for the hiring organization. Tell the hiring manager how your skills and achievements can benefit the company and help you complete the duties of the position.

3. Rewriting the Resume

Do not simply rehash your resume. It is included with your cover letter, and hiring managers are not interested in reading the same regurgitated information. Provide unique information that shows off a bit of your personality.

4. Being Too General

Hiring managers can instantly spot a generic cover letter. Make sure each cover letter and resume you send is tailored to the specific organization and includes information that directly relates to the position for which you are applying.

5. Incorporating Errors

Make sure your cover letter is flawless. Read it several times to rule out errors, including spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Ask a family member or trusted colleague to proofread your cover letter to gain a fresh perspective before sending it.

6. Leaving Out Vital Information

Before finishing your cover letter, read the job posting again to be sure you have included all the necessary information. The potential employer may ask you to cite a specific job listing number or provide other details.

7. Being Impersonal

Never send a cover letter addressed to "Dear Sir" or "To whom it may concern." Take the time to find out the name of the hiring manager, and address it specifically to that individual. This may require an Internet search or phone call to the organization.

8. Sending It Incorrectly

If you plan to apply electronically, copy and paste your cover letter directly into the body of the email. While the resume should be included as an attachment, doing this with the cover letter creates an unnecessary extra step for the hiring manager.

A well-written cover letter and impeccably drafted resume are vital to landing an interview. Even an ideal candidate with a superior education, an admirable work history and glowing references can find his cover letter in the reject pile because of a few common mistakes.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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