You don’t have a lot of chances to make a first impression on an employer, so you need to make sure you’re paying specific attention to your cover letter. Most of the time, a formal cover letter is replaced by an email with your resume attached. This is the way the application processes have evolved over the last two decades. But you still need to treat this email like you would any introductory letter to an employer. So what are the biggest mistakes job seekers are making and how can you avoid them?
You didn’t do any research.
There is nothing worse than a cover letter that has incorrect information. It happens more than you might want to believe. Job seekers will fail to change a word, which can make all the difference in the application process. Make sure you research the company and the job ahead of sending the letter so you can be as accurate as possible.
The letter is all about you.
Sure, your letter is an introduction to your resume, but it’s so much more than that. If you can use the cover letter as a platform to sell your skills to the company in such a way that makes them see how you can be the answer to whatever problem they’re trying to solve. Make the employer and the job the center of attention.
You left glaring errors in the letter.
This is a simple fix that many people forget about before hitting send, especially in an email. One trick is to not add the email address until the letter is composed and edited so you can’t accidentally hit send before its perfect. Go over your spelling and grammar with a fine-toothed comb and fix anything that’s incorrect.
You didn’t personalize it.
If you can, find out the name of the person who will be reviewing resumes for this position. You may be able to find out the information through LinkedIn or the company website. Then address the letter directly to them using Mr. or Ms. and their last name. If you cannot find this information, avoid addressing the letter with “To whom it may concern.” Simply use “good morning” or “good afternoon.”
Avoid talking about money.
There will be a time and place to talk about money, and the cover letter is never it. Even if the company asks about money, you may want to consider other ways to answer such as, “My salary expectations fall within the budget for your position.” Or you can suggest talking about salary at a later time. For the most part, companies won’t ask this question and if they do it may be a red flag in the application process.
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