Your resume is crucial to landing a good job, but no one will bother looking at it unless your cover letter convinces them to do so. A good cover letter is hard to do, so having one will set you apart from other applicants vying for the position. Avoiding these common cover letter mistakes will boost your chances of getting noticed.
1. Omitting a Cover Letter
Failure to provide a cover letter is a serious mistake. Providing a brief "Hope you like my resume" is an equally egregious cover letter mistake, and potential employers will see it as a cop-out. They may assume any of the following:
- You're lazy.
- You can't follow instructions.
- You have no idea how to write a cover letter.
- You have nothing to say.
These are not messages that you want to send. Do the work--it is crucial to making the right impression.
2. Typographical Errors
Before submitting any cover letter, proofread it carefully. It is easy to overlook small cover letter mistakes on a document that you have written, but others will notice them. The person reading your cover letter has probably never met you before, so they will be judging you in part by your writing style. Make sure it is flawless.
3. Badmouthing Former Employers
Since you are looking for a new job, it's obvious that you are not completely satisfied with the job you have now. However, trash-talk will only call your character into question. Complaining about your boss is a bad idea. Remember--your cover letter should be written in a positive tone and should highlight your strengths. If the topic of why you are leaving your current job comes up during an interview, answer the questions tactfully.
4. Making Your Letter Too Long
This is a cover letter--not an autobiography. Hiring managers will not be impressed by a 30-page cover letter; they won't even bother to read it. 200 to 250 words should be plenty to cover what you need to say, if you focus on the relevant details. The cover letter is just the appetizer--entice potential employers to learn more about you.
5. Sending the Wrong Message
Vague, overly-flattering adjectives can send the wrong message. They sound like bragging, and they don't provide any useful information. These are examples of what not to say:
- I have incredible social skills.
- I'm a great salesperson.
- I have awesome taste.
Instead, describe real accomplishments. For example:
- I was voted class president.
- I have three years of sales experience.
- I received high ratings at my last job.
Your cover letter is your first impression--make sure it’s a good one. With LiveCareer’s Cover Letter Builder, it’s fast and easy to create a cover letter that will make employers remember you--and help you get hired sooner!