Learning about common cover letter mistakes can go a long way towards making your cover letters more effective and helping you find a great job. Your cover letter is often the first contact a prospective employer has with you and you’ve got about ten seconds to make a good impression before he or she is turned off. Check yours for these common cover letter mistakes and you’re more likely to start off on the right foot.
One of the most common cover letter mistakes is failing to proofread. Running your letter through a word processing spell check is a good start, but it’s not enough to ensure that your cover letter is perfect. Your computer won’t flag homophones as mistakes—those are words that sound alike but are spelled differently and have different meanings. “To” and “too” are examples of homophones. If you write, “I am going too send you references tomorrow,” the spell check may not notice that it’s a mistake. In addition, things that are not technically mistakes but are not good writing style, like using the same verb three times in one paragraph, will not be picked up by your word processor but they’re definitely things you should change. You may think a simple typo in a cover letter shouldn’t be enough to rule you out of a job, but it only takes about 5 minutes to proofread and there are people who will refuse to consider you because of it.
Another of the most common cover letter mistakes is listing your functions rather than your achievements. The best cover letters don’t merely say, “I was operations manager for 10 years and oversaw 10 locations from our home office. They say, “When I was operations manager I cut costs 75% over my predecessor and won an award for streamlining communication between our 10 remote offices.” Frequently people are taught not to brag, but failing to brag in a cover letter is a big mistake. If you start your cover letter with three of your brightest moments, it’s sure to catch the potential boss’s attention.
Yet another of the most common cover letter mistakes is using the wrong format. The most common business letter format in use today is the block letter, examples of which can easily be found by searching that term. Using an informal letter style will make you lose points with a formally oriented employer.
Believe it or not, possibly the most common of cover letter mistakes is failing to include one at all with a resume! Many people respond to classified ads or job listings on the internet by just mailing, faxing or e-mailing their resumes. Just because an ad or listing doesn’t say to include a cover letter, don’t forgo it. The cover letter puts a professional spin on things and failing to include one at all is one of the worst cover letter mistakes you can make.