5 Deadly Cover Letter Mistakes You Have Been Making
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By Michelle Wanjiku
You have seen a job advertisement that you would really love to apply for. You have a compelling CV that you are sure will give you a competitive edge. The challenge now becomes how to draft the perfect cover letter that will complement that CV. A cover letter is supposed to sell your skills and experience to a hiring manager. A good cover letter can be the difference between you being unemployed and landing your dream job.
According to Florence Mukunya, Career Advisor at Corporate Staffing Services Limited a recruitment firm that offers career advisory services like CV writing, cover letter writing and interview coaching, a cover letter is a powerful tool that job seekers should use to their advantage. According to her, it is the first thing that a hiring manager looks at before they even move on to your CV. She advises that, your cover letter should be able to scream “I am the right candidate” from afar.
Mistake 1: Weak Opening
Your opening should flag you as the best. Stop splashing the reader with greetings. Again, stop being too obvious to be read. The difficulty associated with writing cover letter openings is mostly attributed to lack of a punch and inadequate of language packaging. By language packing, I don’t mean giving the reader an opportunity to visit their dictionary. Make it simple and straight to what you want to communicate.
Consider this example:
Weak opening: Please consider me for your Communication job that you have.
Better intro: I’m passionate about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time in a most effective way. I love writing and processing of information.
Mistake 2: Omitting Key Selling Points
A cover letter at all times should position you as the best candidate. In fact, it should go beyond what the resume articulates and be a forerunner for your interview. Good cover letters should emphasize your top accomplishments that are related to the job you are applying. Showcase your key selling points as in this example:
For the last two years, I have gained skills and successfully executed duties related to both print and electronic media. I have been writing, interviewing, editing and managing social media campaigns among other duties.
Mistake 3: Too Long with Inappropriate Salutation
If your cover letter exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. A great cover letter is concise but compelling, and respects the reader’s time.
On the other hand, they way you start your salutation matters. It can be a turn off for the hiring manager. Take for example, a lady hiring manager receiving a letter on her desk which has been addressed as ‘Dear Sir’. Research about the people who are in the HR department.
Mistake 4: Wrong Format, Repetition and Being Vague
This hinders your chances of getting a job. Stop the use of fancy fonts. Keep it simple. You can use Times New Roman font 12 for clarity. It should include the date, the recipient’s address and your address.
Read your letter as many times as you can to eliminate repetitions. You can give it to your friend to check and remove such repeated material. Don’t bring in what is already on the CV. The letter only compliments the CV.
If your application is a response to an advert, make reference to that specific advert, adding the job reference number, if it is available. The person reading your letter could be reviewing hundreds of such letters for different jobs. Make sure all the content in your letter supports how you will meet the employer’s specific needs. That is, avoid being vague. Stick to the idea as required by the job in its descriptions.
Mistake 5: Grammatical Errors and Wrong Sign-Outs
People who handle information as their job such secretaries, journalists and social media communicators are likely to be wiped out from the shortlist when a hiring manager sees a grammatical mistake in their cover letter. For one, it reflects your carelessness. You couldn’t edit your work and you are applying for an editor assistant post!
Using tags such as “Yours dearest” at the end of your cover letter portrays a lack of professionalism. Keep it simple and use phrase ‘Sincerely’ followed by your name at the bottom. For printed letters, it is an official document connecting you to the employer; make sure you sign against it. Emails, however, can be send without necessarily being signed; but sign if it is a scanned document.
In conclusion, you must show the best in your cover letter. This is because it is the first contact between you and your hiring manager. This article will help you pull down some of the nasty stuffs you have been carrying in your cover letter. The idea of the cover letter is to sell you, speak for you. Make it as simple as possible and ensure it speaks your mid to the employer.