Cover letter mistakes you should avoid
Nix these things and make sure your first impression isn't the equivalent of a limp handshake.
Avoid these common mistakes when writing your cover letter.
Your cover letter is like a handshake—it’s how you introduce yourself to employers when you apply for a job. Like a good handshake, you want your cover letter to be strong, succinct, and make a great first impression.
This isn’t a part of the job application process you want to skimp on, either. A cover letter allows you to go into more detail than your resume allows, explain gaps in your employment history or your need for a career change, and make a case as to why you would be a great fit for the position. And a great cover letter can open the door to scoring an interview and, ultimately, landing a job.
Make sure your first impression is a good and lasting one by avoiding these common mistakes below when writing your cover letter.
1. Overusing “I”
Your cover letter is not your autobiography. The focus should be on how you meet an employer's needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word "I," especially at the beginning of your sentences.
2. Using a weak opening
When writing a cover letter, job seekers frequently struggle with the cover letter's opening. This difficulty often results in a feeble introduction lacking punch and failing to grab the reader's interest. Consider this example:
- Weak: Please consider me for your sales representative opening.
- Better: Your need for a top-performing sales representative is an excellent match to my three-year history as a top-ranked, multimillion-dollar producer.
3. Omitting your top selling points
A cover letter is a sales letter that sells you as a candidate. Just like your resume, it should be compelling and give the main reasons you should be called for an interview. Winning cover letter tips include emphasizing your top accomplishments or creating subheadings culled from the job posting. For example:
- Your ad specifies: Communication skills
I offer: Five years of public speaking experience and an extensive background in executive-level report.
- Your ad specifies: The need for a strong computer background
I offer: Proficiency in all MS Office applications with additional expertise in website development and design.
4. Making it too long
If your cover letter exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. A great cover letter is concise but compelling, and respects the reader's time.
5. Repeating your resume word for word
Your cover letter shouldn't regurgitate what's on your resume. Reword your cover letter statements to avoid dulling your resume's impact. Consider using the letter to tell a brief story, such as "my toughest sale" or "my biggest technical challenge."
6. Being vague
If you're replying to an advertised opening—as opposed to writing a cold cover letter—reference the specific job title in your cover letter. The person reading your letter may be reviewing hundreds of letters for dozens of different jobs. Make sure all of the content in your letter supports how you will meet the employer's specific needs.
7. Forgetting to customize
If you're applying to a number of similar positions, chances are you're tweaking one letter and using it for multiple openings. That's fine, as long as you customize each letter. Don't forget to update the company, job and contact information—if Mr. Jones is addressed as Ms. Smith, he won't be impressed.
8. Ending on a passive note
When possible, put your future in your own hands with a promise to follow up. Instead of asking readers to call you, try a statement like this: I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any preliminary questions you may have. In the meantime, you may reach me at (555) 555-5555.
9. Being rude
Your cover letter should thank the reader for his or her time and consideration.
10. Forgetting to sign the letter
It is proper business etiquette (and shows attention to detail) to sign your letter. Err on the side of formality, and if you need any help figuring out how to close your cover letter, consider these possible sign-offs.
However, if you are sending an email cover letter and resume, a signature isn't necessary.
If you need additional writing tips, join Monster today, so the experts at Monster's Resume Writing Service can help you impress employers with a high-impact resume and cover letter.
If you have any doubts about how to sign your cover letter, then you need to look no further. Read on for a few ideas on how to sign your resume's cover letter.
Career Advice & Tips: Resume Writing Tips
How To Sign A Resume Cover Letter
The relation between a cover letter and a resume is the same as a preface and its corresponding book. This is what the reader reads before he/she views your resume, so it can be used to create a good first impression. First impressions go a long way and may even make the recruiter take more interest in reading your resume or curriculum vitae. Your cover letter must be crisp, professional and to the point. A lengthy cover letter is sure to lose the reader’s attention, so, ensure that yours is very succinct and precise. Cover letters usually end with phrases like “Thanks and Regards” or “Thanking You” or “Sincerely”, followed by your signature and name. If you are printing the cover letter, omit at least four lines between the typed salutation and your name to sign the cover letter. It is better to sign the cover letter by hand for a personal touch rather than use any image processing software or computer generated signature – use black or blue colored ink for signing professional letters. This way of showing personal interest and using black or blue ink to create an impression of professionalism can influence the recruiter’s mind in a subtle way and if your resume suits their needs, they might just consider you as a prospective employee even before they meet you.
Signing A Resume Cover Letter
The closure of the cover letter starts with phrases like “Sincerely”, “Best Regards”, “Warm Regards”, “Thanks and Regards”, “Thanking You”, etc. These phrases should end with a comma.
This should be followed by few empty lines and then with your full name. The empty space is for you to sign on the letter by hand.
If your signature is generally impossible to read, try to sign neatly so that the reader need not strain him/herself when attempting to read it.
Some offices who have trained professionals for handwriting analysis prefer hand signed letters for obvious reasons. You can use digital signatures only if you have to send the cover letter and the resume online. In such a case, you wouldn’t be able to sign it by hand so you can use a digital pen to copy your signature as an image that can be copied at the respective position. However, it is not mandatory and the cover letter can also be sent unsigned on mail.
Of the most commonly found ink colors (red, green, blue, purple and black), blue and black signify professionalism and are very often used for business letters. The same applies for the color of the signature in your cover letter. In short, stick to black and blue.
Your name typed below should contain your first name, last name and also your middle name, if you have any.
Your signature should not overlap the typed print. This is why you must leave enough space between the last two lines. The above mentioned estimate of four line-spaces would be sufficient for most signatures but if your signature is too big, you might need to add more empty lines accordingly.
Always remember to sign on your cover letter. Forgetting to sign after printing it is one of the most common mistakes made by people applying for jobs. This mistake conveys a message of irresponsibility and lack of attention to detail, when viewed from the employer’s perspective.
You need not type your postal address, email address or phone number below your name because these details are supposed to be mentioned at the beginning of the cover letter.
People in the field of recruitment tend to observe minute details to get hints of your personality and/or character. Minor details such as signing your cover letter, might sound a tad bit too irrelevant to you but they are observed and often scrutinized by the prying eyes of the recruiter. This is why it is important to understand what is expected and follow the same if we must win the employers’ approval.
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