A cover letter often represents the first impression an employer formulates about your personality. The short, concise statement as to why this job is a perfect fit for you serves as a response for a resume submission through email.
Every word counts in a cover letter, so make sure you know what phrases to avoid that could hurt your chances of getting a second look from an employer. Once you know what verbiage to stay away from, replace words with what really matters to a recruiter.
1. Generic Salutation
Never introduce yourself with "To Whom It May Concern" or some other generic salutation. An impersonal cover letter with a generic greeting means you fail to show interest in a company, so why would an employer want to hire you? Always address your correspondence to the name of the person responsible for hiring you. Find out the name of this person through a quick Internet search or by calling someone at the office.
2. Incorrect Company Name
Inputting the wrong company name is a fatal mistake that happens when you send a ton of applications to many companies all at once. Address the correct company, and spell the name right. Know the company you're sending the letter to, and include the name in the first sentence. Have a friend or colleague look over your cover letter to catch any glaring errors, such as the wrong business name.
3. "I Believe"
Recruiters and hiring managers may not care about what you believe. These people care about what you bring the company. Write more assertively with phrases such as "My 10 years of IT experience make me the perfect candidate for this position." It sounds better than "I believe I fit perfectly into this role because I spent 10 years as an IT employee." The assertive sentence starts with the qualifications instead of ending with them, so it puts your best assets first rather than last.
4. Lacking Experience
Phrases to avoid in a cover letter include saying negative things about your qualifications. When you have limited words in your correspondence, they should all be positive reflections of your abilities to fit the role. Tout your transferable skills that you learned from past experience rather than saying you do not fit the bill on a major qualification listed in the job posting.
Do not say "references available upon request," because checking references is a standard practice in the business world. Mine your network within your correspondence to include the person who referred you this position. Keep your references and your connections up-to-date on your job search progress so they know when to expect a call from your prospective employer. This means your references are ready for when the call comes.
A cover letter is a personal introduction to an employer or client. Make every word count by avoiding impersonal phrases or fluff and get to the meat of your personal story that touts your fit for the position.
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