Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
A recruiter’s experience is often vastly different from that of the applicant. The perspective from which they view a candidate’s application can be vastly different, and it’s not always an easy task to grasp all aspects of what makes for successful recruitment. With this in mind, we wanted to go over some common mistakes job seekers make in their cover letters — errors that are just as likely to get them passed over as any other error on the page.
OK, now, I have to admit I have not written many covering letters during my career, but I sure have seen a thousand of these after over 30 years in management. A majority of cover letters I had reviewed were horrendous and make you wonder how some people got their current positions to even begin with. There are plenty of articles available that tell you how to write a covering letter. Well, I will go in the opposite direction and tell you what not to do in my own words and some sensitive points that others will beat around the bush with.
What is the Purpose of a Cover Letter?
The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself and your experience concisely. It also introduces your resume, which is the document that outlines all your professional expertise. Therefore, a cover letter should be well-written to demonstrate that you are someone worth considering. To do this, it should be well-organized and easy to read. Your cover letter should also explain why you are interested in the advertised job vacancy or would like to apply for their graduate program.
- Don’t address me as “Dear Sir” or “To Whom this may concern”. Instead, take some of your “Oh so precious time”, get off the X Box, do the research, and find out my name. I do not go around the office being called “Dear Sir”. I have a name, and I was hoping you could find it out and address me adequately. Even worse than that are cover letters that say: “Hey Dude” or “What’s Up”. I mean, do you want a job or not. Be professional about it. Also, do not address me by my first name; I do not know you and that privilege is reserved for people who know me.
- Do not misspell my name. That is even worse than the “Dear Sir” as noted above. Nothing gets me going off my rocker more than people who incorrectly sell other people’s names. So, believe me when I say if you do any of these first two, your covering letter and resume are going right into the too often used shredding machine.
OK, now that we have got past the first line of the covering letter, let’s get into the rest of the stuff that, if you do, will offer you no chance of getting that job.
- Don’t tell me that this is a stepping stone for you to do something else later. Example: “My eventual goal is to have a career in architecture and feel this position as an office assistant in your firm would allow me to gain some experience”. I want someone who will do 100% on the job and be a long-term employee. This tells me it is just a short-term job till you can find something else. Trust me; I don’t want to pay or babysit you while looking for your perfect job. If you wish for the position advertised or applying for, be convincing in that opening sentence.
- Please don’t give me experience that does not relate to the job you are applying for. The fact that you spent two years working as a dog kennel attendant does me no good in evaluating whether you will be qualified for any other position other than a dog kennel attendant. Be relevant on your points, and don’t try to fool me, as I am the wise and knowledgeable “OZ” I will be able to tell your trying to pull one over on me once I start reading your resume, that is if I even decide to read it after your covering letter garbage.
- If you tell me why you would be a good candidate, then get to the point. Don’t put in a lot of fluffy stuff. Hey, I am a busy executive trying to find someone for a specific position; don’t waste my time if you do not qualify. But if you do qualify, then tell me about it. Tell me how you were the best dog washer at the kennel or whatever it was.
I do not want to hear about every hobby you have and how you were the snooker champion at your local pub last year or a star of your town’s football team. I don’t care about all that stuff. Good for you, but that does not mean you are suitable for my job. I do not want to read a novel; I want short detailed specifics and how your experience does relate to what I am looking for. So please don’t send me a two-paragraph cover letter. Could you show me that you are literate? That does not mean to tell me what books you have read. Literate means knowing how to put a paragraph together and structure it so a halfway intelligent person can make sense of it. Here is a terrible example of that:
Dear Mr Smith:
I want bad your job to do the duties of administrator for your company. I hear your company pays well and wants to work for that kind of place. I know I would be more suitable than others for that job that pays well.
Let me, please, interview you.
See you soon
Need A job
- Do not let spell check do all your work for you. Yes, spell review is lovely, but sometimes it does not work right and will put in a word that is irrelevant to your letter. Spelling errors and improper use of words tell me that you are not thorough in doing your job entirely and would ignore cleaning out the dog stalls. So doke sure you use spell check, but also remember to read it over to make sure all the right words are being used.
I found what was probably one of the worst cover letters ever written in doing some research here. Word had it that this guy sent out hundreds of these and did not respond. Instead, he would fill in the company’s name and the position and send it out. So my last word of advice is, “Do Not use the below Covering Letter as a template for your letter“.
Dear Sir or Madam
I have wanted to join _______ to work as a ________ from an early age as you are a significant prestigious employer that lots of people want to work for, and you offer high salaries. I also would like to work in another country, and you are a global company.
Hoping to hear from your shorty
“Joker that wrote this letter”
Make Sure You Don’t Make These Mistakes When You Write a Cover Letter.
The cover letter aims to introduce you and your skillset to the recruiter. Therefore, your cover letter is one of the essential parts of your application. It’s what can make or break whether or not you get hired. Here are some tips that will help you write a cover letter that gets noticed:
– Write a specific, personalised introduction about who you are and what kind of position you’re applying for.
– Spend more time on why they should hire YOU rather than what they offer or how it’ll benefit them to hire YOU.
- Avoid cliches like “I’m looking forward to hearing from you.”
- – Don’t use “I’m writing this” or “I am writing to” at the beginning of the letter.
- – Don’t just say what you want from the company or that you’re available for work without giving specific details about what you can do for them.
- – Avoid being generic, e.g., “I want a career where I can use my skills.”
No matter how qualified the candidate is, they will not get the job if they make a mistake in their cover letter. A cover letter is often the first impression an employer receives about a potential employee.
As soon as they start reading it, they will be looking for mistakes that may have been made in grammar or spelling. Therefore, it’s essential to proofread your work twice before submitting it because even a straightforward typo can cost you your dream job.
Conclusion: It is beyond frustrating to read through these letters for the first time. If you have ever had a manager who was great at writing cover letters, I am sure they could write about themselves in such an exciting way without sounding bragging or being too self-serving. A good letter should make me want to learn more about this person’s background and what makes them so unique. I can’t even remember how someone has written something just as their job history with nothing else other than “I would love your opportunity.” It sounds like we are not interested because there isn’t anything worth reading here! The main point is that you should not be lazy when writing your cover letter. It’s a simple thing to do, and it will help ensure that the person reading your application takes time out of their day to consider giving you an interview. Spend some time crafting a well-written note with clear points about what makes you stand out from the competition. Your resume speaks for itself, but presenting yourself as someone who cares enough to put forth effort into something like a cover letter shows initiative and sets off those “hire me” bells!