Your cover letter is the first thing a hiring manager will see when you apply for a job. It’s the deciding factor that determines whether your resume will earn a glance or end up in the trash, so make sure you leave a positive and lasting impression by avoiding these top cover letter don’ts.
Don’t begin with a weak opening
The first part of your cover letter may be the only part that a hiring manager takes the time to read, so don’t risk an opener that will make their eyes glaze over. Grab the reader’s attention with a short introduction and an attention-grabbing statement.
For example, “Your need for a top-performing administrative assistant is an excellent match to my 4-year track record in successful office management and executive support for a Fortune 500 company.”
Don’t repeat your resume
Nobody wants to read the same thing twice. Instead of regurgitating your resume, highlight the top three key points or skills that you offer.
Don’t send the same one to every job
Just like your resume, customizing your cover letter is the key to success. Read the job description and use it as a “cheat sheet” to create a cover letter centered on this specific position.
Don’t only focus on your needs
Avoid using “I” or “my” too often. Although you are writing about yourself, the cover letter should mainly focus on the employer and the position. What makes you the right person for this specific job? How can the company benefit from hiring you?
Don’t use “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To whom this may concern”
Avoid addressing your cover letter to a generic reader by finding out who the actual hiring manager is. Do your research and it will definitely pay off, maybe enough to get your cover letter to the “yes” pile. If you can’t find the name, use the reference “Hiring Manager” instead.
Don’t forget to indicate the position you are applying for
Hiring managers usually hear from hundreds of applicants—sometimes for different jobs within the company. Make a reference to the job that you are applying for incase they are hiring candidates for more than one position.
Don’t hide that you’re great for the job
Take advantage of formatting tools such as bullet points or bold fonts to emphasize your achievements. If the hiring manager is going to scan your cover letter, you want to make sure these important details jump off the page.
Don’t go over one page
Make sure that your cover letter is clear and concise. No matter how extensive your work history, keep it down to one page only. You don’t want to waste the reader’s time …or put them to sleep!
Don’t email as an attachment
Sending a blank email with an attachment risks your application looking like spam. When applying to a job online, include your cover letter in the body of the email and attach your resume to the message.
Don’t forget a strong closer
If you have followed #1 above, its time to end your cover letter with a bang. Include a strong closer that will leave a lasting impression and create anticipation for your resume. Promise to follow up by phone or email—and pull through when the actual time comes.