Writing a compelling cover letter is a significant step of the job application process. It can shape your image in front of the hiring managers and set you apart from the rest. Even though 90% of recruiting managers don’t pay attention to cover letters, 53% of employers prefer candidates who send cover letters along with their resumes.
A lot of you might think, “If no one’s interested in reading my cover letter, why bother writing one?” Well, the reason is simple – to stand out from the other applicants.
For example, let’s say you have applied for a job post with your resume and cover letter and the hiring manager is confused and wavering on your resume. S/he would then read your cover letter to get to know you.
This can have two possibilities –
- You’ve done an excellent job with your letter, and you may move up the selection chain for the position. Or,
- The hiring manager has a few candidates in hand and critically analyses each letter for errors to weed out candidates.
When 48% of recruiters discard cover letters for not being customised, and 49% throw out letters with errors, you need to be aware of the mistakes that most candidates make.
Below I have mentioned some cover letter errors that could cost you your dream job. Read on to learn them and ways to avoid similar mistakes to seal the deal.
6 Cover Letter Blunders That Cost You the Job
You ignored the basics.
Even if you are an experienced cover letter writer, a rookie mistake can land your letter in the bin. Often, candidates ignore the basic dos and don’ts. For example:
- Addressing the hiring manager as “Dear Sir” when the recruiter is a woman
- Blabbering pages after pages about unnecessary details and using generic lines such as “I love your company,” or “As I mentioned in the resume…”
- Forgetting to proofread the letter and ignoring the writing guidelines.
What to do:
No matter how many times you’ve heard this before, I am still going to repeat:
- Don’t exceed your cover letter by more than one page. 70% of recruiters prefer short cover letters.
- Don’t use vague greetings, like “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Ma’am,” as it will seem you didn’t put enough effort into researching the hiring manager.
- Proofread your letter like a hawk. If you’ve already proofread, get a second opinion.
You repeated your resume/CV.
You must understand that the hiring manager has already read your resume before reading your cover letter. You cannot vomit the same things you’ve mentioned in the resume onto your cover letter.
What to do:
Understand the difference between a resume/CV and a cover letter. A resume presents your career’s factual data, whereas a cover letter is more like a statement highlighting why you want the job in the first place.
Instead of adding exact information from your resume, use the job description and tailor your response accordingly to fit the requirement of the candidates the organisation is looking for.
Highlight the relevant skills and job experience to show them why you would be the right choice for the job role. For instance, if you call yourself a “team player,” be specific and give examples to support the claim.
You used the same letter for all job applications.
Sure, composing a new, unique cover letter for every job application can get tedious and time-consuming, but it’s certainly worth it. I know a lot of you use free templates to structure your letter in the correct format.
What to do:
Even if you use free templates, make sure the letter’s content is tailored to the needs and goals of the company you are applying to. The hiring manager can just read and tell which one’s a pre-written letter for mass distribution and which isn’t.
Every business has unique goals and values. You have to write an impressive letter that justifies your interest in a particular role. Take your time and show what made you interested in the specific job and how your knowledge and experience align with its mission and goals.
You featured your shortcomings.
Each one of us has some form of weakness or the other – no one’s perfect. You don’t have to highlight your weaknesses by stating, “I know I lack expertise in application development, but…” Such statements highlight your shortcomings, and the recruiter will toss your application in the trash.
What to do:
A cover letter helps you explain your experiences and how they make you a perfect choice for the job role.
For example, let’s say you were a manager at an eatery, but now you want to make a career switch and apply for a job position in human resources. The two choices don’t quite correlate. But, when you write in your letter that you used to prepare training modules, your team’s handbook, and conduct team orientations, you suddenly highlight some of the required skills.
You focused on your benefits.
I know you want a job that pays a handsome amount and offers fantastic employee benefits. But that doesn’t mean you are only going to speak about personal benefits in your cover letter.
When you write something like – “I love your company. It’s been my childhood dream to work for your firm, and it would mean so much if you would call me for an interview,” the recruiter finds your letter self-focused.
The recruiting manager wants to learn about your skills and professional expertise. S/he wants to know what you can offer for the organisation’s growth.
What to do:
While it’s completely okay to be excited about applying to your dream organisation, learn to use a different angle to convey your enthusiasm while highlighting the company’s beneficial aspects.
Instead of writing “I love your company. It’s been my childhood dream to work for your firm, and it would mean so much if you would call me for an interview,” write:
“I am ecstatic to find this job opening as I have been a follower of your company’s blog since the early days. I am thoroughly aware of your organistaion’s background and goals, which align with my career goals. I believe I can make contributions to your operational team and take it to a new height.”
You failed to support your claims.
Whether it’s your resume or cover letter, you must provide data or facts to support your claims. If you are talking about your skills, job expertise, and achievements, you can’t make any vague statements. In case you fail to support your claim, you not only miss out on the job opportunity but may get “blacklisted” for life.
What to do:
Always use numbers, data, and statistics to support your claims as much as possible. For instance, “helped my team’s productivity by 35%” is far more potent than merely writing “increased my team’s productivity.” This statement will help your recruiter analyse your value and get a fair, positive outlook on your work commitment.
Writing a perfect cover letter requires focus and effort. Looking at the bigger picture, you must give time to writing a cover letter. Pay attention to every detail and consider the points discussed above while drafting your cover letter. Don’t let these mistakes ruin your chances of getting interview calls from your dream organisations. Good luck!