I've been teaching college level business writing for the past 5 years. During that time, I've taught hundreds of students how to write effective cover letters. Their drafts are often filled with mistakes that would cause potential employers to throw both their cover letter and resume straight into the trash.
Here is a list of the top ten mistakes made by novice cover letter writers:
1. Spelling and Typing Errors. This simple mistake makes you look careless and/or ignorant, both are cover letter killers.
2. Using Long Paragraphs. Your cover letter must be easy to read, skim, and scan; so, write it in “business style. " In other words, use short paragraphs, sentences, and words.
3. Not Matching the Resume. Your cover letter is the introduction to your resume and provides the first impression of you. So, use the same high quality paper that you write your resume on. Also, match the font and style of your resume. You want to create an easy transition between the two.
4. Addressing it “To Whom it May Concern". Do you like getting junk mail that's addressed to “current resident"? Of course not! Neither does the hiring manager of the company you're applying with. Take the time to learn about the company and who does the hiring for them. Then, include their name and title in the cover letter.
5. Writing a Generic Cover Letter. Your cover letter should be tailored to match each specific position that you are applying for. Remember that it tells the hiring manager which position you're applying for; and it is the introduction to you and your resume.
6. Writing Vague Statements. Your cover letter is the place to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Pick specific achievements to highlight. Use lots of specific adjectives to describe yourself. Match them with the ones in the job posting if possible. If they want a “highly motivated and outgoing person, " be sure to use those words in your cover letter.
7. Too Short. Most cover letters should be one full page. Many people make them too short because they think that cover letters don't really matter. But, keep in mind that the point of the cover letter is to make the hiring manager want to read your resume. If they don't like your cover letter, they will throw it and your resume in the trash!
8. Too Casual. Remember that you are not writing a letter to your friend, but to your potential employer. Be polite and friendly, but not casual. Use formal business letter style.
9. Using Graphics and Pictures. Do not include any graphics or pictures that might distract the reader
10. Not following up. If you say in your conclusion that you will contact the hiring manager on a specific day and time, make sure you do it! Not following through makes you look irresponsible. Who would hire an irresponsible employee? I hope these tips will help you write a cover letter that will get you noticed. But, if it seems too hard to write a quality cover letter, let me WRITE FOR YOU. I'll write a cover letter and resume that will make you stand out in the crowd. My writing service is both professional and affordable.
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