Finding the right job is not an easy process, but it's well worth the effort. One of your top priorities should be writing a cover letter that piques the interest of hiring managers and makes you look like a well-rounded candidate. Avoid making these common mistakes when writing and sending cover letters to potential employers.
1. No Cover Letter
Not sending a cover letter at all is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a job seeker. Most hiring managers expect to see at least a short cover letter outlining your qualifications. If you don't include one, you are at a disadvantage. Without a cover letter, it's difficult to persuade people to read your resume or give your job application more than a cursory glance.
2. Generic Cover Letters
Copying and pasting the same text into every cover letter is a good way to sabotage your job search. Smart hiring managers can spot a generic letter with one quick glance. Instead of using the same text and switching out the name of the hiring manager, customize every cover letter for the job opening. Include one or two lines of text that show you took the time to research the company before applying for the job. Instead of typing a laundry list of qualifications, focus on the skills most closely related to the position.
3. Lack of Polish
Poor writing can really hurt you at this stage of your job search. No one expects you to write a Pulitzer-worthy cover letter, but you need to demonstrate a basic grasp of grammar conventions and writing best practices. Before you send a letter to a hiring manager, proofread it multiple times to ensure there are no mistakes. If you graduated from a local college, visit career services to see if someone is willing to review your cover letter before you send it. Having someone else check your letter is a good way to identify and correct serious errors.
Finally, make the hiring manager's job a little easier by approaching your cover letter as if you are writing a story. Instead of rehashing your resume, give the hiring manager a taste of your personality. Talk about past achievements, or explain how you used one of your skills to benefit a previous employer. Writing a letter this way makes it easier to hold the hiring manager's attention. As an added bonus, hiring managers are more likely to read your resume if you send in a well-written cover letter.
Hiring managers can easily receive hundreds of applications for a single job opening, making it easy for a candidate to get lost in the crowd. Make your application more memorable by writing an engaging cover letter that tells the story of who you are and what you have to offer an employer.
Photo courtesy of AlisaRyan at Flickr.com
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