The Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that 35.8 percent of unemployed people in the month of January were long-term unemployed (3.6 million out of 10.2 million). And while those who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more may have more trouble securing a job as those who are newly unemployed, at some point job applicants may be wondering, “Is it my resume? Or, is it my cover letter that’s stopping employers from calling me?”
Here are a few of the most common cover letter mistakes unemployed people make. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll impress more potential employers–and boost your chances of getting hired!
Mistake #1: No personalization
If a cover letter looks like a copy and paste job to a bunch of companies, they will notice. Read through the description of the job duties, and cherry pick your skills to highlight how you would be a good fit for this company. Make sure to avoid using job skills that companies aren’t interested in for that particular position.
For example, if a company is looking for an editor that doesn’t do any amount of writing, listing all the companies that you’ve been a reporter or freelancer for is useful information for a resume to show your publishing experience. However, to an employer, it’ll raise a red flag that you’re looking for something in the job that is not in the day-to-day skills. This is an easy way for employers to think you’ll be dissatisfied and quit later on down the line. A cover letter is your opportunity to showcase why you’d like to go in a different career path and point out your skills for that particular job. Or, highlight why you’d be the best possible candidate for that job.
When trying to write cover letters for several different companies, it’s too easy to have typographical errors. Proofread your cover letter before clicking the “Submit” button. Verify everything from spelling to updated contact information. Submitting a cover letter full of misspellings is the worst first impression to give a potential job employer. Make use of a dictionary whenever you’re uncertain about spelling. This is a cover letter mistake that can easily be avoided with Spell Check.
Mistake #3: Not Paying Attention to Special Instructions
Job posting companies, such as Craigslist, commonly ask for job seekers to change the subject headline to certain words to prove they’ve read the job description in full. Avoid the cover letter mistake of replying to a post without editing where necessary. Make sure you change the subject headline to whatever the company states. Also, if the company asks for a salary history, references and writing samples, include that information on the cover letter or a separate document. Before a company with special instructions even reads through a cover letter or resume, they look to weed out cover letters that fail to follow instructions. No salary history? No writing sample links? They’ll delete and move on to the next candidate who paid attention.
Check Out What Works
If you’re already avoiding these cover letter mistakes and still not getting the response you want, it’s possible that employers are distracted by your cover letter or resume design. Bold here. Italics there. Headlines or dates not in the right place. Bullets not lining up correctly. Browse through LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder to see hundreds of cover letter examples that may be a better visual fit to market your skills. Touch up your resume, too, with LiveCareer’s Resume Builder.