One of the keys to landing an awesome job is starting off on the right foot with the recruiter. That said, few things are as annoying to recruiters as a poorly written cover letter. So, what can you do to ensure that yours make a good impression? Here are the top three cover letter mistakes and tips on what you can do to fix them.
Mistake 1. Focusing too much on yourself and your resume.
Although it’s great to list one or two key accomplishments that are relevant to the role you’re applying for, your cover letter shouldn’t rehash your resume. In fact, it should focus on the things that you can bring to the table and only mention the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position. Instead of summarizing your achievements, go beyond your resume and make your experiences personal to the job.
Pro Tip: Quantifying achievements with metrics is a wonderful way to demonstrate the impact you’ve had at previous jobs and to help hiring managers envision you as a member of their team.
Mistake 2. Making it longer than a page.
Another common cover letter mistake a lot of college students and recent grads make is to write a letter that’s far too long. Although this might be tempting (after all, you want to show the hiring manager that you’ve done a lot of cool things and could do a wonderful job for them), it’s important to remember that employers are often quite busy and often don’t have time to read a two-page letter. Instead of telling them your whole life story, focus on conveying your enthusiasm for the role and highlighting 2-3 key things that define your work and your personality.
Pro Tip: Knowing how to structure your cover letter will go a long way toward ensuring that you get it right. We recommend keeping it to three paragraphs with the first paragraph mentioning why you’re applying for the position, the second paragraph explaining your interest in the role and the industry and the third paragraph discussing your qualifications. This is a great way to ensure that you’re hitting on all the right points without going overboard on the length.
Mistake 3. Not checking for typos and grammar mistakes.
Of all the mistakes you can make on your cover letter, not proofreading for typos is probably the worst. This signifies a lack of attention and also a lack of care, two things that are unlikely to impress recruiters. The best way to avoid this is by making sure to read through your letter at least three times and asking a friend or family member to take a look at it too.
Pro Tip: Here’s a proofreading tip you may not have heard before: Reading backwards is an excellent way to catch spelling mistakes that you might otherwise gloss over. The best way to do it is by going through the letter word by word (starting with your signature) and working your way to the top.
While a strong cover letter can help you get noticed by employers, a weak one might hurt your chances of getting hired. By knowing what mistakes to look out for — and what to do if they pop up — you’ll be able to write the kind of cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd.