6 Cover Letter Mistakes to Avoid
Some hiring managers place a lot of emphasis on the cover letter. Some don’t. But all will agree that careless mistakes in your cover letter can doom the best resume and short-circuit any job search.
With that in mind, here are six cover letter mistakes to avoid …
Never begin your letter with “Dear Sir.” If the employer is a woman, she won’t be thrilled. And, more likely, you won’t be called. Don’t know the recipient’s gender? Start with something like “Dear Hiring Manager,” or “Dear Employer.”
The “3rd grade essay” effect
While it is acceptable to hand write a brief thank-you card, all other correspondence should be typewritten, or, better yet, done on a laser printer. Handwritten cover letters simply aren’t professional in the current millennium.
Avoid dot matrix printers. Most produce hard-to-read letters that look like something from the IRS. Use a laser printer, even if you have to rent one from a local print shop.
The “Bureau of Missing Persons” effect
Don’t forget to include your phone number and other crucial contact information. A no-brainer, right? Wrong. One applicant wrote, “Please call me at your next convenience,” but didn’t include a phone number. Not good.
The speed bump
Long, dense, text-heavy paragraphs. Avoid them. Remember — your reader has a stack of cover letters to plow through. Make his or her job easier by limiting your paragraphs to four or five lines, at most. And never exceed one page.
Don’t write like someone who’s been hit over the head with a dictionary. Here’s an example: “I specialize in the implementation of workplace solutions that leverage self-directed teams toward increased throughput.” Come again? Write as you would speak.
You can avoid all six of the errors above if you do two things: take your time writing, then ask a trusted friend to review your letter.
Keep this final point in mind as you write. After reading every sentence in your cover letter, ask yourself: “So, what?” Is that last sentence compelling, or fluff? Necessary? TRUE? If not, rewrite or remove it. Then ask yourself “So, what?” again. Revise until every sentence shines!
Best of luck to you!
Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash