Your cover letter could be the one thing standing between you and your dream job! Yes, cover letters should be short and concise so you may think you can write a quick one and get away with it, but those three paragraphs are important and every little detail may be scrutinized. Here are four cover letter mistakes you may be making and how to fix them.
1. Copy-and-Paste Cover Letters
You shouldn’t ever repeat cover letters, not even if you change a few minor details here and there. You also shouldn’t write out one vague cover letter that states all of your achievements and fire that off to every company you see. The point is, there is no cover letter out there that’ll work for every job you apply for – cover letters should be tailored specifically to their respective job posting.
When you write about your accomplishments on your cover letter, they should be specific to the qualifications and required skills that are on the job posting. You should also speak about why the specific company and position appeal to you as well.
You can still save time on your cover letters while tailoring them to each job you apply for, though – just come up with a customizable cover letter formula. Come up with a base cover letter and make it easy to edit. For instance, write lines like “During my time as [job title] at [company], I increased [KPI] by [percentage] within [timespan] by [2-3 places you succeeded]” and format them into a cover letter, maybe even taking bits and pieces from prior cover letters you found successful. From there, you can edit to your heart’s content every time a new job posting comes up.
2. Resume Rehashes
Don’t just look at what’s already in your resume and repeat it in your cover letter. This is redundant – they’ve already read your resume, and they’ll probably think you have nothing else to offer if all you can do is repeat the same things.
Your cover letter should be a place to expand on what you’ve said in your resume, or showcase skills and accomplishments that you couldn’t fit into your resume. Always highlight your absolute best accomplishments in your cover letter, and even if some of them are taken from your resume, use this opportunity to go into further detail. Expand on how you managed to be so successful – which specific skills do you employ? What were the exact metrics and how did they affect the company? How can you bring this energy to your new potential workplace?
3. Misspellings and Bad Grammar
It should go without saying that you need to proofread your cover letter. It’s a pain after spending so much time writing it, we know, but it’s necessary. After all, wouldn’t you hate to know that you wrote the perfect cover letter but you didn’t get an interview because of a few easily preventable typos? And those typos are much more important than you think – you can’t apply for a job that requires a “fantastic attention to detail” only to misspell words in your cover letter!
The fix for this one is simple – proofread your cover letter! Read it, make your edits, then read it again, make more edits, until you’ve read it a few times and you find it perfect. Look for typos, clunky wording, bad grammar and ways to shorten sentences. If you have a family member or friend who’ll read and edit your cover letter for you, ask them to look at it as well, especially anyone who works in the same industry. The more eyes on your cover letter before the hiring manager sees it, the better.
3. Insecure Language
Never use weak or self-conscious language on your cover letter. This is a huge mistake that’s very easy to make. It’s as simple as using statements like “I believe that I’d be an asset to your company” and “I think I would be a good match for this position.” To a hiring manager, this shows that you aren’t fully confident in your abilities – and confidence is a must for any workplace.
When you go back to edit your cover letter, take out all of these statements that seem weak and replace them with something stronger. Openly state that you would be an asset to the company and that you’d be a good match for this position – no more “I think” or “I believe”. Upgrade any adjectives to strong ones as well – you aren’t “good” at graphic design, you’re “exceptional”, for instance. Remember that you don’t need to brag or be vain, just come across as confident in yourself.
In short, each cover letter you write should be unique, tailored to the company, separate from your resume and showcase you as a strong, confident worker who’ll catch any typo that comes up. With a customizable cover letter formula and a few rereads, you’ll be on your way to landing your next job!
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Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock