The cover letter is one of the most underused job search tools. When used effectively, your cover letter can show the employer the person behind the resume, explain gaps or other problems, make a connection between your skills and the requirements of the position and convey passion for the job. Unfortunately, most job seekers do the absolute minimum when constructing their cover letters. Some cover letters are so bad, that they can actually damage your chances of getting the job. Here are some ways that you can annoy potential employers with your cover letter. Make sure that you avoid them:
Don’t send one. Even the strongest resume is ineffective on its own. You always need to send a cover letter. Your cover letter introduces your resume and helps the employer put it in context. Also, employers will often review cover letters to see if they can get any hints as to what you are like as a person.
Don’t proofread it. Sending a cover letter with spelling or grammatical errors is the height of sloppiness. It makes you look lazy and incompetent.
Don’t customize it for each position. Are you sending the same cover letter to twenty-five different employers? Do you think that you’re getting away with it. You’re not. When you don’t customize your cover letter, you end up including details that are irrelevant to the employer and you may miss points that are important. You lose the opportunity to show the employer how you are uniquely skilled for their particular position. Most employers will give mass cover letters the attention that they deserve.
Make it really long. Nobody has the time or the inclination to read rambling cover letters. Keep them brief, (three paragraphs max.) and provide a quick outline of your skills as they relate to the job.
Don’t follow the employer’s directions. Employers find it incredibly aggravating when applicants fail to follow simple instructions. Pay attention to what is written in the job advertisement and always apply according to the employer’s specifications.
Since employers are always looking for ways to screen through the hundreds of resumes that they receive for each available position, you never want to be the annoying applicant. When you are looking for a job, it is always a good idea to consider everything that you do from the employer’s perspective. If you were the manager, would you hire yourself?
(Written by: Karen Bivand)