A well-written cover letter is essential to getting an interview, and in today's economy most applicants need all the help they can get. Writing an excellent cover letter is a skill that is difficult to develop, especially if you're new to the working world.
Cover letter mistakes you shouldn't make
You might think that your cover letter isn't important, because you've already covered all the important information in your resume. But remember that your cover letter introduces your style and personality to the hiring manager, while your resume is more like a dry recitation of your history and skills. Here are three common cover letter mistakes made by rookies and how to avoid them.
Going overboard with "I"
If you ever see "I think" in your cover letter, strike it out. Obviously, you think you'd be a great addition to the team: if you didn't, you wouldn't be applying for the job, right? Your cover letter should introduce you and give some insight into your personality through your words, which are more informative and inflected than they are in your resume. Using "I" to start too many thoughts shows that you're more interested in talking about yourself than how you can influence the job they have to fill.
Repeating your resume
Your cover letter should expand on your resume, not reiterate it. The hiring manager has your resume right in front of her; she doesn't need it restated in your cover letter. Don't list things that are already in your resume, like core competencies and past positions held. Instead, expand on them by giving more information. D
id you list an award on your resume? Spend a sentence talking about what you did to earn it. Did you spend a semester in Haiti doing earthquake relief? Talk about how your time there helped you develop skills you will use to adequately perform at this position. Use your cover letter to give depth to the list of work experience you put on your resume, not simply restate it.
General cover letters
Even inexperienced workers know to tailor their resumes to the specific job description, but you should also be tailoring your cover letter to the job as well. Don't make the common cover letter mistake of sending the same one to every job opening. Your cover letter shows even more personality and candor than your resume, so it should absolutely be tailored to fit the job description and it should reflect the kind of attitude and general demeanor that fits the company culture. This is where it helps to do a little research: about the job, about the company, and about the particular professional industry you're in.
If you're a first time applicant fresh out of school, you can do your best to avoid these common cover letter mistakes by knowing what they are and how to get around them. The temptation to commit these cover letter mistakes can be great, but you have to know how to resist making them and instead craft a well-written, balanced, and interesting cover letter that will make managers sit up, take notice, and want to take a second look at your resume.
LiveCareer's Cover Letter Builder makes it quick and easy to create a mistake-free, well-crafted cover letter that will help you land more interviews, and get more chances to get hired.