Cover letters are a great way to give potential employers information about your qualifications outside the confines of your resume. However, the freedom that comes in being able to elaborate on why you are the best person for the job, can also allow you to veer off in the wrong direction and lead to some common mistakes that will guarantee you do not get a call back. Here are five common mistakes that people make when writing a cover letter and recommendations on how to avoid them:
You ignored the good advice your colleagues gave you.
You sent out a generic cover letter to “Dear Sir,” and did not do the homework necessary to find out who the hiring manager is for the job. You find out it is a woman, thereby reducing your chances to zero to be considered for the position. Next time pay attention to details in order to address the letter to the right person.
You rewrote what was already stated in your resume.
A cover letter presents an opportunity to provide additional details about your qualifications, something a few bullet points in a resume will not cover adequately. A cover letter should help an employer see you as a whole, well rounded individual and convey pertinent information about your unique skills.
You wrote a generic cover letter instead of one specific to the job.
A hiring manager can see a stock cover letter for what it is and quickly send it to the circular file. A cover letter should always be specific to the job you are applying for, and should convey your understanding of what the company does and how you can be an asset to a future employer.
You reiterated your weaknesses in the cover letter.
If you do not have specific qualifications for a position, such as a good knowledge of computers, do not try to explain them away in a cover letter. Focus rather on how your past experiences will translate to this new role, and elaborate why you are a good fit for the company.
You focused on what the company can do for you, rather than what you can do for them.
A hiring manager is looking for candidates that can be an asset to their company. They are not particularly interested in knowing that this is your dream job. You want to express enthusiasm by showing how your unique skills and expertise would be an asset to the team.
Source: “5 Ways Your Cover Letter Lost You the Job,” by Katie Douthwaite Wolf, The Muse
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