3 Rookie Mistakes To Avoid On Your Cover Letter

It’s just as important as ever to learn how to write the perfect cover letter. Not only does it show who you are as a candidate in greater detail, a good cover letter is a gateway to getting an interviewer to look at your resume in the first place. The most common mistake on cover letters, by far, is the classic typo. The last thing you should do before you turn in your application is get another set of eyes check what you’ve already proofed. However, there are a few more rookie mistakes that will often disqualify you from the very start. Read on for ways to avoid them:

rookie cover letter mistakes

1. You Don’t Personalize It

Unless you’re responding to an anonymous job post, in which the hiring corporation prefers to keep its company and employee names private for the time being, there is absolutely no defense for not having a personalized greeting at the top of your cover letter. Do a little research via the company website or LinkedIn—anywhere you can get your hands on the name of the recruiter or the person in charge of hiring, and address your cover letter directly to that person. A little personalization will go a long way and will put that edge on your application that someone else might be lacking. It doesn’t just make the hiring manager feel a connection with you, it also conveys you’re willing to put in a little extra effort.

2. You Go Into Too Much Detail

Yes, a cover letter is the ideal (and often first) way to tell a potential employer more about yourself. However, it’s not the time to talk about every single job you’ve held since high school. Be sure to select a couple highlights from your career—whether they all came from a single job or not doesn’t really matter—and focus on how those accomplishments can help you in your potential new role. For example, if you’re applying for a marketing position, cherry-pick one or two projects that saw particularly impressive results and discuss them in more detail. Or, if you’re applying for a management position, examine a couple of instances in which your ability to run a team resulted in demonstrable successes. Be sure you don’t ramble, though—in this case, short and sweet is the way to go.

3. You Only Focus On Yourself

Talking about your accomplishments and what you’re looking for in your next role seems like a natural thing to do when applying for a job—you are, after all, selling yourself to the company. But potential employers actually want to hear about what you can do for them. Take some time to apply what you know and do to the specific needs of the company. It’s great that you completed XYZ at your old job and earned ABC diploma, but how do these achievements translate to the new role? What difference will your knowledge make? Think of the organization as a customer, and consider carefully what you have that they need. This is your chance to speak directly to the hiring manager and make your unique presence known.

A cover letter can seem like a daunting task, but with a little research and reflection, it can prove to be a huge advantage. It's your moment to shine, so use the opportunity responsibly and professionally—don’t waste space on jokes or information that doesn’t pertain to your skills or the job in question, and don’t copy your resume into letter form. Your cover letter is the chance to further the information from your resume and zero in on what you can do for the company. Let your cover letter be your voice, and speak up!

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