Seven Cover Letter Don'ts

cover letter tipsWhile the resume is a critical marketing tool for the job seeker, for some hiring managers the cover letter can be an equal or even more important tool for assessing a candidate's competencies. The cover letter gives the job seeker an opportunity to connect with the reader and even show a bit more of their personality and passion for their work. Yet some job seekers view the cover letter as an afterthought and don't pay enough attention to the role the letter can play in showcasing their value. Below are seven common cover letter mistakes.

  1. Make the cover letter all about you. Employers don't want to see a data dump of everything you have ever done. They want to see a letter with a laser focus on the skills and achievements that are relevant to their business and address their pain points. Be specific and write with the employer's frame of reference in mind.

  2. Write more than one page. In today's fast-paced world, no one has time to read long cover letters. Get to the point quickly and use brief paragraphs or bulleted lists of competencies and achievements to demonstrate a succinct and compelling value proposition.

  3. Write less than a paragraph. Writing a cover letter that simply states "my resume is attached for your review" adds no value to your candidacy. Use the cover letter as an opportunity to connect with your reader. Generally you should be able to get your point across in three or four brief paragraphs.

  4. Forget to sign your name. Overlooking this detail may leave the hiring manager wondering what other details you don't pay attention to.

  5. Neglect to reference the position you are applying for. Some hiring managers are recruiting for multiple positions simultaneously. Refer to the position you are applying for early on in the letter to avoid confusion.

  6. Fail to proofread the letter. Again, paying attention to the details is important. Use spell check, proof read, and ask someone else to review the letter to catch any errors.

  7. Send your cover letter/resume with a generic subject line. Recruiters may be receiving hundreds of resumes for the same position. Stand out from the crowd by using an eye-catching subject line when you send an e-mail with your resume/cover letter attachments such as "Award-Winning Sales Manager" or "Top Producing Customer Service Representative."

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I am a RN who has been out of the loop for 15 years now. Raising my 3 children and helping my husband with his business at home so I can be with my children. How do I make my resume sound enticing for any employer out there? Other than the nurse refresher course I took, my skills seem so outdated. Any suggestions?

September 20 2011 at 3:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought that the reference to "pain points" in the first paragraph was pretty funny.

October 28 2010 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Judy's comment

"Pain" points is hilarious! But it shows exactly what can so easily happen. I'm a journalist ... I use Spellcheck regularly. But I missed this on the first read. Spellcheck won't pick up individual words containing no individual letter errors. They'll pass right under the radar and establish themselves smack in the middle of your text.

October 28 2010 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I teach business communication on the college level. The tips are right on. I would only add that the candidate should always address the cover letter to an individual's name rather than some unknown entity. If it is a generic person to whom it is addressed, there is no guarantee it will find its way to the right person.

October 28 2010 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice articel!! We shred any resume that is generic, unsigned, or has spelling, syntax errors, etc. What we like is walk in candidates. We consider internet job hunting a nice tool, but only a first step. Head hunters are out as they seldom understand the complexity of our business.

October 28 2010 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Wayne's comment
Gail Tate

I enjoyed reading the information regarding resume mistakes to avoid. I would also like to add, lying about accomplishments, and making sure you choose font and type size that all employers can read. The fancy fancy stuff
is not what I am looking for.

October 28 2010 at 10:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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