Before you finalize your cover letter and send it off to recruiters and potential employers, take one last look through your text to make sure you aren’t guilty of any of these common cover letter problems. Even better, review this list before you start writing and you’ll avoid these issues before they happen.
Wooden, clunky writing
Vary the structure of your sentences. If your first sentence is long and convoluted, keep the next one short and simple. Go back through your letter and make sure every sentence is a logical, complete sentence with a subject and verb. Vary the subject—don’t begin every sentence with “I.” And above all, make sure every sentence and paragraph is clear and easy to understand.
Don’t use your wording to get away with exaggerations and overstatements. If you completed a complex, brilliant, highly challenging project for a previous employer, don’t suggest you did this single handedly if you actually worked with a 20-person team. Employers have an uncanny sixth sense about this kind of thing. They know when they’re being manipulated, and they don’t love it. Be honest and straightforward as you present your accomplishments.
This can be tricky, but you’ll need to make sure each thought you express builds smoothly and logically from the last one. Don’t abruptly change focus without warning and then change back. It might help to think of your letter as a simple narrative—the story of a hero’s journey with you as the protagonist. You can also think of your letter as a long answer to a simple question: why should you be hired for this job instead of someone else?
Missing the point
Some candidates get so caught up in providing a glowing description of themselves that they move all the way through the letter without ever getting to the point: why they should be hired for this specific position. Sure, you’re a terrific person and a hard worker, but what about THIS job? How will your experiences and your skill sets benefit this company and help these employers reach their goals?
Don’t wander off track. If the first draft of your letter is five pages long, and you have no idea where or how to begin making cuts because every detail seems essential, stop. Take a breath. Back up. And start over. Think of five simple facts you’d like these employers to know. Then reduce your letter to these five facts. Let the rest go. If you get this right, you’ll be talking about all these other details in person when you’re called in for your interview.
Use Your Cover Letter to Get in the Door
Your cover letter has two jobs: first, it shines a spotlight on your resume. And second, it adds a voice and personality to your basic credentials—a personality that’s pleasant and interesting enough to be invited in for a face-to-face meeting. Use the templates and cover letter resources on LiveCareer to tackle these two challenges.