12 Common Cover Letter Don'ts Everyone Should Know

In: How To

Today, many employers require the applicants to apply with a resume and a cover letter. We’ve recently spoken about do’s and don’ts of a modern resume, so you’ve already learned how to make your resume look up-to-dated and keep it informative for a hiring manager. So, how to make your covering letter just as good as your resume is?

The mission of a cover letter

While the resume serves the purpose of impressing a hiring manager with your qualifications for the job supported by real life examples, a cover letter has different mission. Most importantly, it is aimed to connect with your prospective employer on a personal level by explaining your motivation, most significant achievements and highlights what makes you a great fit for the job. Moreover, a cover letter is a working sample of your business communication skills.

So, don’t consider a cover letter to be a meaningless formality. Start composing your letter without a shred of doubt – and our list of cover letter don’ts will help you avoid the frequently made mistakes.

  • Don’t sound self-centered
    The art of writing a cover letter assumes that you should write about yourself without sounding too selfish and without overusing I. The best way to do this is to align your strengths with the company needs, focusing on those which are really helpful for your desired position.
  • Don’t neglect the traditional cover letter structure
    According to Purdue Owl, a cover letter should have four major sections: heading, introduction, argument and closing. The heading contains contact information and states to whom a cover letter is addressed. The introduction states your main point which is supported in the argument section. Remember that your main point is to persuade the reader that you possess the qualifications this specific company requires and have an inner motivation to succeed at this job. The closing restates a few key points and thanks the reader for their time and attention.
  • Don’t use ‘Dear Sirs’ or ‘To whom it may concern’ at the subject field
    The above way of addressing letters is the easiest one if you don’t know who will be reading your letter. On the other hand, it shows that you’ve failed to spend five minutes to research the company’s hiring manager name in LinkedIn. Do take a little time to find out the name of person who will be reading it – and this effort will increase your chances of getting to ‘Yes’ pile.
  • Don’t use a weak introduction
    Forget the weak statements like ‘Please consider me for the opening – a resume is attached’ or ‘I believe I will make a good office manager’. Impress the reader from the very first paragraph by giving your key advantages, Livecareer says. ‘As a #1 sales representative of the previous year with a proven record of exceeding sales targets, I am confident I will increase the profitability from the product assigned’ works more effectively.
  • Don’t forget to mention the name of position you’re applying for
    Livecareer mentions that there are often multiple job openings available in the same company. So, if the desired position name is not indicated, hiring manager will be forced to read into the letter just to figure out which job you’re applying for. Some of them even won’t waste their time reading letters where the essential information is not mentioned.
  • Don’t reiterate your resume
    A cover letter which simply repeats the statements from a resume is often the case.  However, such a cover letter is no point as it adds no value to a reader. Your cover letter should be based on the facts from resume, but it can go deeper into detail of your strengths/achievements or, in contrary, show how you as an applicant can handle the challenges within the organization you’re looking to join.
  • Don’t make it longer than one page
    If you have an impressive career history and lots of recognition, you might want to share all of them with a prospective employer. Nevertheless, even if you are a perfect candidate, no one is likely to read the two full pages of your achievements. Focus on most recent and most relevant ones – the best cover letter length is less than one page.
  • Don’t send the same cover letter to all job openings out there
    Just like your resume, a cover letter should be targeted for each job posting you apply to. No need to write a new cover letter every time – a basic customization will be enough. Hint: to better customize the cover letter, do a quick research about the company, find out about their needs and mention how you would handle them. Such a letter will definitely evoke more interest than the one which simply lists your professional capabilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to take the initiative
    The majority of cover letters end with something like “I will appreciate the invitation for an interview”, thus the applicants let the hiring managers take the initiative. However, being proactive won’t do you any harm. For example, at the closing section you can write the following “I will follow up in a week about the status of my application” and then call to find out whether your documents have been considered. Not only this will help you stay top off mind for a potential employer, but also will relieve you from weeks of uncertainty.
  • Don’t email your resume as an attachment
    If you email both your resume and a cover letter as attachments, they may be seen as spam by the system. The best solution is to paste your cover letter as a body of the email and only attach a resume.
  • Don’t be impolite
    You have to be concise in your cover letter. However, that doesn’t mean that you can afford being rude. Phrases like “Thank you for your time and consideration” and “Please find my resume attached” don’t add much information, but they serve a different purpose: to demonstrate your good business etiquette.
  • Don’t forget to proofread your cover letter before sending it in
    Grammar errors can spoil even a well-written cover letter. So, get your covering letter proofread several times to make sure all contact information is specified correctly, the document has consistent formatting and has no grammar and punctuation errors.

A cover letter is not only a necessary addition to a resume. A sound written letter can change the hiring manager’s opinion in your favor even if your resume is quite average. So, take your time to craft an informative cover letter that will market your skills and expertise best – or hire a skilled resume writer to assist you with it. Let your professional and personal strengths shine and you won’t get unnoticed!

Have written a great resume and a cover letter and still no interviews? Maybe, it’s time to incorporate the power of social media to find a desired job faster? Check how to use hashtags in a right way to let the employers find you or to find relevant jobs in your industry on Twitter or Facebook.

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