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Common Mistakes When Writing a Cover Letter

Cover letter mistakes

A cover letter is an important paper to prove your competency. It creates a professional image of you that your potential employer reviews. While reading your letter, the employer focuses on a number of important aspects. So, the cover letter you have to write should fulfil and reflect the most important professional functions of yours as of an employee and be flawless.

Cover letter writing is one of the most important tools for finding a job. And if a resume can be called a "calling card of the applicant," a cover letter is a kind of self-presentation at the virtual preliminary blitz interview. And the importance of this "blitz interview" can’t be overemphasized: after all, without passing it, you will not be able to get to a real interview. Moreover, you will not get the desired job.

A perfect cover letter should persuade the potential employer to read your resume. It should convince the employer that you will be extremely helpful to the company. It must also show your ability to write important business papers, your extreme talent for communication and the ability to adjust to any kind of professional relationships.

According to numerous studies in the HR sphere, the most common mistake of jobseekers is sending a resume without a cover letter. That’s a complete failure. One can only guess what those applicants are expecting. Perhaps, they are too lazy to spend time preparing their cover letters: they think that the job "will find them" itself. Well, the second mistake, perhaps, is that they simply do not know what to write in cover letters. But this mistake may be easily corrected.

Common Cover Letter Mistakes

The biggest cover letter mistake is that some candidates replace the cover letter with its imitation, i.e. some general and meaningless words or accompanying phrases.

In this case, the cover letter is composed as it is. But in fact, it would be better not to compose it at all. The mistake here is that such a "message" can only harm you. After all, if the applicant can’t write a normal cover letter, the employer will have many doubts. Is this candidate really able to express their opinions? Did this candidate have real success and achievements at work? Does this candidate have enough motivation since they don’t want to waste time on writing cover letters?

Another cover letter mistake is that a large number of such letters is characterized by the lack of the logic sequence and confusion of the presentation. To convey your opinion to the potential employer (that you are the ideal candidate for this position), it should have a clear logical structure.

Grammatical mistakes are just unacceptable. So, the best thing is not to hurry to send a letter, but first, carefully check it for possible typos and other errors. Maybe, you should read the text to your friend or relative, and they may help you to improve it.

One more unacceptable mistake is the "blind" copy of the cover letter template found on the Internet or your buddy’s cover letter. Never do that! It should reflect your personal qualities and meet the needs of the employer. This should be your own "masterpiece."

Some candidates send the same cover letter to all vacancies without making corrections and adjustments to every new chosen position. Each vacancy and professional specifics of each employer are individual, and this should be undoubtfully taken into account and strictly analyzed in order to avoid mistakes. What one should definitely do is to adapt a resume and a cover letter to each vacancy so they meet all requirements.

A cover letter sent to a posted vacancy should definitely differ from the paper written for a vacancy that is not posted, but you assume that it may be.

Cover letters are read before analyzing the resume itself, so they play the major role in the interpretation and perception of further information. They should be drawn up correctly to win the addressee’s favor and deviate from the critical perception of applicant’s professional and personal characteristics. You can check other cover letter mistakes examples here.

The majority of HR specialists state without any doubts that an unsuccessful cover letter is a true and reasonable excuse to send even a perfect resume attached to the trash: 36% of HR managers admitted that they refused an interview with the candidate for this reason.

Cover Letter Tips: No More Application Mistakes

Cover letter tips

The practice of writing cover letters is more common among top and middle managers. For these positions the letter requires fundamentally different approach. Let's look at the main features of this paper. You should always keep a strict structure:

  1. A good cover letter includes a greeting part. For example, it contains such phrases as "Dear (name/positions)," "(Name), good afternoon," "Dear (same)." The greetings should be either personalized or contact a department if the recipient's name is unknown for some reasons.
  2. The body part should include the information on the position you are applying for. Explain why this vacancy has attracted you: an interesting product, a new professional challenge personally for you, or complex but interesting responsibilities. It is a good to start from the motivation and move smoothly to the experience and project list, which is not described in the summary but is useful for this vacancy. Remind your potential employer about your motivation again.
  3. The last step of your cover letter is to come up with an appropriate farewell part. Type something like "Best regards" or "Sincerely," and duplicate the contact details.

Avoid Clichés. Always!

That’s the key point to remember that all the parts, except for the one where you talk about additional projects, are usually full of the cropped cliché phrases, created by successful candidates many years before you were even born. They are standard and obvious “in the professional etiquette” and in the practice of cover letter writing. But remember that cliches should fill in not more than a couple sentences.

Keep in mind that reading your cover letter will take an HR manager 10 seconds. Unfortunately, such practice reflects the fact that many candidates make a mistake and write about absolutely all their projects and life experience that has nothing to do with the vacancy. Such letters reveal the candidate’s total lack of understanding of both the position and their role in the company.

Try to write a small but informative and useful letter, filling it with high-quality information.

Stick to the Company’s Culture and Industry

Stylistically, any cover letter should fit the company's industry and its corporate culture.

For the majority of engineering, medical, banking, consulting, and other employers, the sustained business style described above will fit. It is fully suitable for 95% of vacancies posted on the majority of job portals. It is distinguished by the easiest and informative form of the letter: simple structure, terminology, the absence of bulky complex sentences.

The remaining 5% include hi-tech, creative, IT start-ups, as well as private and small companies that allow more freedom and emotional appeal from the candidate’s side.

Making frequent mistakes instantly kills the reader's interest. If this entry form is so typical for you that you are copying your letter, then for the recipient you become the same standard candidate that has nothing in common with creativity and a true desire to get the job.

However, do not make a mistake and describe your experience in different words. Nobody wants to spend extra time reading the same information twice.

Creativity and some adequate humor are considered to be relevant, especially if a company is a part of the small percentage of employers for whom the originality and humor make a part of the professional activity and correspond to the internal corporate culture.

So, what's the secret of success? The letters should be structured, concise but extremely capacious, stylized to the company's culture and free of mistakes.

The most important conclusion that can be made if we summarize most cover letter tips is that the paper should focus on the interests of the company but not on the personal interest of the candidate. Show that you know what the company needs and how to help it.

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