Cover letters are a tricky part of the application material process.
Studies have shown that the vast majority of employers/recruiters (~90%) claim they don’t read them most of the time.
At the same time, many of them say they like candidates who include a cover letter (~50%).
What this means is that while your cover letter has a positive impact, the chances of it not getting read are high
Despite this inconsistency, knowing how to properly format, present, and construct a cover letter is a valuable skill that every job hunter must pursue to perfect.
To help you get started in your journey toward that awesome new position, I’ve put together a list of common cover letter blunders to avoid.
By sidestepping these potential pitfalls, your cover letter will stand a higher chance of being read/acknowledged.
Including the Cover Letter as a Separate Attachment
One goal of the cover letter is to get people to open your resume.
So where possible, don’t include the cover letter as an attachment in addition to your resume.
For example, if you are sending an email application, then include the cover letter text in the email body itself.
Using General/Overused Words, Without Being Specific
Comments about “being the ideal match,” or “being a results oriented,” often result in the recruiter rolling their eyes.
If you really want to impress the recruiter, your examples of such qualifications need to be specific, and genuine.
Typos and Formatting Errors
It has been shown that 70% of recruiters will automatically dismiss any applicant with typos or formatting errors present in their cover letter.
Before sending in material to a company, always check a few times, to make sure it is devoid of any issues.
Talking too Much About Yourself
Knowing your audience is half the battle when trying to impress a recruiter/employer.
Once you know what they’re looking for, use the cover letter to explain what you can do for them.
It’s about them. Not you.
Too Much Duplication
Nobody wants to read the same material twice.
If you simply use your cover letter to repeat your resume, the recruiter will become bored, and become more dismissive of your candidacy.
Writing a Novel
Similar to typos, most recruiters/employers prefer brief cover letters.
In fact, a cover letter that is a half-page or less is often considered the strongest.
Avoid novelistic writing, and keep your application material strong, short, and attractive.
Going Overboard with Praise
Don’t be hyperbolic about your love or admiration of the company.
If you do this, it will make you look unprofessional, and possibly disingenuous.
Flattery is welcome; just keep your compliments reasonable and keep the focus on what you can do for them.
Using the Same Cover Letter for All Jobs
While your cover letters might follow the same structure for most applications, as far as possible, try to tailor them for different roles. Generic and one-size-fits all letters, will have a lower success rate.