It's widely accepted that when it comes to splitting two strong candidates for the same job, the cover letter can be the thing that makes or breaks an application. Sure, the resume has to be strong to portray a good candidate with all the necessary qualifications, but if you make even the simplest of mistakes in the letter, your application could end up in the bin.
The basis of a good cover letter (and an effective job search, for that matter) is ensuring you do your research. It's important to remember and consider the particular sector you're applying for, as well as the type of company or organization you're looking to work at. It's all well and good saying that you admire a company in a cover letter, but what if they aren't actually a company, so to speak?
Employers will immediately become aware that you aren't fully clued up on their business and their trade, and they may well throw your cover letter straight in the trash. The difference between an organization and a company is pretty big, so make sure you refer to them in the correct manner. The easiest way to ensure you get it right is to check the web address; a .com suggests a company, while a .org refers to an organization. Little tricks like this make your job search all the more successful in the long run.
Another common mistake that can easily cause offense to employers relates to the addressing of the letter. If you conduct some proper, thorough research, you'll be able to find exactly who you're supposed to be directing your cover letter to. Addressing it to the wrong person is only going to lead to one thing, and that's your application being instantly rejected. Also, make sure that any facts you're using about the company or organization in question are just that: facts. A cover letter littered with statements that turn out to be false don't just offend potential employers — they can anger them as well.
You'll often hear how important it is to have good spelling and grammar in a cover letter. There's nothing that could turn a prospective employer off more than you confusing "there" and "their," for example. This shows a lack of professionalism, and the overall image of your cover letter — no matter how strong the qualifications are — will plummet in no time.
While many people take great care in working on the strength of a cover letter, sometimes the little things can cause applications to be rejected. Avoiding basic mistakes, from misunderstanding the company to the smallest of spelling errors, will be of significant help to you in your quest to land the perfect job.
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