Your resume provides a hiring manager with an overview of your skills, experiences, and professional achievements. It’s your chance to pitch yourself to the company. The cover letter is your chance to tie your experience directly to the position you’re applying for, express your interest in the opportunity, and show the employer what sets you apart from the competition. Ultimately, the goal is to land an interview. Certain mistakes will ruin a cover letter pretty quickly. Here are some cover letter mistakes and what you should avoid.
Not Focusing Enough on the Company’s Needs
A cover letter is sometimes thought of as a personal statement. You’re writing about yourself and your work experience. In reality, cover letters are about the company and the job position. You have to convince them that you have the ability to fulfill the responsibilities of the position, thus, it’s ultimately about how much your skills and experiences align with the needs of the company.
Not Doing Your Research
No hiring manager wants to read an impersonal cover letter that sounds like you just copied and pasted a template, nor do you want it to sound like you’ve sent the same cover letter to dozens of organizations. A cover letter that looks generic suggests to the hiring manager your interest in working for the company is low, so take steps to make your writing unique. First of all, make sure you address the hiring manager by name. You also want to include as many details that directly pertain to the description of the role, the company’s mission statement, etc.
Making a Laundry List of Your Jobs and Experiences
If you have had many different jobs during the course of you career, you don’t want to talk about each and every one of them. Not every job you’ve had relates to the one you’re applying for, so if you go into too much detail about your work history, you risk confusing the hiring manager or suggesting to them that you don’t understand the nature of the job for which you are applying. In this case, “less can be more” impact!
Writing Too Much
Hiring managers read thousands of resumes and cover letters. The task gets old quickly. They don’t want to read a cover letter that spans two pages. Try to keep the letter down to a half a page. Be succinct. Summarize the key points in concise bullets. You want to just include the details that best showcase how you will be able to fulfill the role requirements and show how you will be an asset to the company.
The cover letter you send with your resume is a chance to convince a hiring manager to call you in for an interview. Because of the generic nature of cover letter writing, your best bet is to write a concise, on-topic letter that avoids trite, formulaic language and gets to the point, which is that you want an interview and that you have the skills needed to successfully perform the role.