Top 10 Covering Letter Mistakes
A covering letter is often the first thing an employer will see, so if you aim to impress your document must be professional and immaculate. It makes sense that a sloppy covering letter littered with mistakes won’t win you an interview, but here are some other common errors to be mindful of.
1. Failure to address the letter
If you haven’t got a name then it can be tempting to address the letter to “Dear Sir or Madam”, but unknowingly you could be doing your application a disservice. Finding the correct contact demonstrates initiative and shows you’re willing to go further than the majority of candidates.
Finding a contact is generally simple, the name you need will often be found on the company website or in the job advertisement itself. If you’re in any doubt, a quick call to the company will soon clear things up.
2. Sounding generic
A good candidate will use the covering letter as an opportunity to demonstrate their unique skill base and individuality. Avoid using generic sayings and phrases like “good team player” and instead express these sentiments in an original way.
3. Incorrect length
Recruiters don’t have time to read pages and pages. If you can’t get to the point in one page of A4 then you really need to condense your letter. If you keep your covering letter relevant you should have plenty of time to get through all the aspects you need to. Be honest with yourself when writing, and question whether each sentence adds another dimension to your application and makes you a more attractive candidate. If it doesn’t, be ruthless and cut it out!
4. Rehashing your CV
A covering letter shouldn’t mirror your CV, it should add to it. Don’t go over the same ground, not only does this bore recruiters who have to read the same material twice, but you’re missing out on the opportunity to sell yourself.
5. Failing to target the covering letter
A mistake made by many applicants is to send out the same covering letter for every post they apply for. Employers can spot this a mile off and will take a dim view. Taking time to research the post and company will add value to your application, and shows you’ve gone above and beyond the efforts of most other candidates.
6. Excess modesty
Don’t forget to sell yourself. Being modest is often a sign of good character, but when it comes to applying for a job you need to show confidence and belief in your skills. Saying you’re excellent at something isn’t boasting, as long as it’s true.
7. Appearing self-centred
Don’t focus your covering letter around what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. Recruiters already know what a great opportunity the role would be, so don’t state the obvious. Instead focus on how you’d go above and beyond in your role to bring in additional business and boost client satisfaction, thus giving the hiring manager a compelling reason to invite you to interview.
8. Failure to proof read
It’s common sense really, but countless applicants fail to proof read their work, leading to shoddy spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Spell check can be a god send, but it won’t spot misused words and poor phrasing. Check, check and check again.
9. Misplaced humour
Although a cover letter can be a great place to inject some of your personality, it’s still a formal business document. Stay professional and don’t joke around, no matter how innocent the jest there’s always the risk it can be misconstrued.
10. Lack of paragraphs
You’d be amazed at how many covering letters comprise of one huge chunk of text without any formatting. Recruiters don’t want to face a wall of text so break things down into paragraphs, even use headings or bullet points if necessary.