A perfect resume is often ruined with a poorly thought out and mistake-heavy cover letter. Whether you are adding your cover letter to your application package as per required submission guidelines, or you simply want to show that you are committed to getting the job, make sure that you avoid making these seven cover letter blunders. (For more, see 10 Resume Red Flags.)
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- Incorrect Company Name
Although you are probably applying to a number of different jobs in your search, you don't have to share this information with recruiters. The most common way that job seekers divulge this information accidentally is by putting the wrong company name or position on their cover letter, or forgetting to change it from the last job you applied for. This common mistake is probably the surest way to not get the interview.
- Unreasonable Length
Keep you cover letter at a reasonable length. Although you may have much useful information to offer, keep in mind that recruiters will often go through hundreds of applications. They simply do not have time to read through a three page cover letter, even if all of the presented information is important. The absolute maximum length for a cover letter, including the headings should be a page. Typically, it should be shorter. (What changes when you're looking for a job online? Find out in 5 Tips For Finding Your Perfect Job Online.)
- Restating Your Resume
The purpose of the cover letter is to identify your skills and explain how your previous work experiences are applicable to the desired position. Simply restating all of the facts on your resume, without going into an explanation of why you skills and experiences are important defeats the purpose of the cover letter. The cover letter has to build on the information presented on the resume, not just summarize it.
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- Identifying Weaknesses
Another primary goal of your cover letter should be to identify the strengths that make you the best candidate for the position. Talking about your weaknesses is not only complete waste of space, but also counterproductive to the goal of getting the interview. While "What are your greatest weaknesses?" is a common interview question, don't jump into such information unless asked.
- Sounding Arrogant
Although you have to identify your qualifications and positive traits, ensure that your cover letter does not portray you as being arrogant. Excessive overuse of the words "I", "me" or "my" can make you sound conceited and as one with a limited vocabulary. Furthermore, repeating any word too often reflects poor writing abilities. Yes, the cover letter is ultimately about you and your accomplishments but you have to find a way of saying "I'm the best" without actually saying it. (For more, see Top 8 Ways To Get Your Resume Thrown Out.)
- Adding Unnecessary Information
Also, focus on your relevant qualifications to the role. If applying for an accounting position, the fact that you have ran a marathon should not be prime focal point, although such a personal accomplishment should be worth mentioning. The type of positive information best left off the cover letter would be things like your IQ - while undoubtedly important for any role, adding it to your cover letter is just plain weird.
- Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
The obvious criteria which apply to professional emails, school exams and resumes are all important when constructing the cover letter. Spelling and grammar problems are a key issue which signals that the candidate did not put in the required time go through and check for potential problems. This lack of attention to detail is frowned upon in all industries.
The Bottom Line
Do not assume that an impressive cover letter can serve as a substitute for a poorly written resume. Both resume and cover letter blunders must be avoided in order to proceed to the interview stage of the hiring process.
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