Some people believe cover letters are a waste of time and rarely include them during the application process. However, a properly crafted cover letter can set you apart from the other candidates applying for the same job.
While a great cover letter can significantly improve your chances of landing the job, a poorly crafted cover letter can ruin your chances of getting the job. Before you start writing your next cover letter, be sure to follow this guide.
Common cover letter mistakes
Avoid these common mistakes employees include in their cover letter.
1. Long paragraphs
Hiring managers are usually limited on time and receive tens if not hundreds of applications for each job opening they post. Due to the number of potential employees they are required to screen, most recruiters don’t have time to read each line in a cover letter or resume.
Most hiring managers skim the applications and cover letters that are submitted to them. If you construct a cover letter with long paragraphs, the great content you include likely will not be read.
2. Grammatical and spelling errors
Believe it or not, many job candidates forget to his the spell check button before submitting their finalized letter.
Proofreading your cover letter and having someone else look it over can save you the embarrassment of typos and other grammatical errors that can cost you the job.
3. Being too confident or boastful
There is a fine line between being confident and being arrogant.
Your cover letter should show your competence and confidence to succeed in the position but should not make you out to be a gift to humanity.
4. A lack of specifics
Your cover letter is your chance to not only tell the hiring manager about your skills and abilities, but it should offer specific examples of how you successfully achieved positive results.
5. Writing too much
A correctly formatted cover letter should be one page in length. When submitting a cover letter and resume to a hiring manager, often less is more.
Providing a lengthy cover letter can have the opposite effect you are looking for and likely will not be read.
Using paragraphs in your cover letter is a death sentence – and what to do instead
The above items detail what to avoid when crafting the perfect cover letter. Now, let’s examine why long paragraphs should be avoided in your cover letter and what to do instead.
Use bullet points the right way
Because hiring managers usually do not have time to read every word in your cover letter, they spend most of their time skimming through applications. Creating bullet points in between short paragraphs is a great way to grab the attention of the recruiter.
Keep your cover letter paragraphs to no more than four sentences and use bullet points when it makes sense. However, there is a right and a wrong way to use bullet points.
An example of a commonly used bullet point would be:
- Provided exceptional customer service
Unfortunately, this bullet point tells the manager nothing. This is your opportunity to provide specific numbers and examples of how you provided exceptional customer service.
For instance, a better version of this bullet point is:
- Received recognition by the manager for providing seamless service to 30+ customers each shift
Using numbers and specific examples rather than generic bullet points draw the reader in and highlight your ability to perform.
Use your cover letter to stand out
As you craft your cover letter for your next job opportunity, avoid the above mentioned common mistakes. As you inject bullet points to grab the reader’s attention, use this opportunity to provide detailed and specific information in your bullet point.
Avoid generic bullet points that offer little to no value to your cover letter and include specifics and numerical data to back up your claims.