Five Cover Letter Mistakes
by Teena Rose of Résumé to Referral http://www.resumebycprw.com
When you see that Christmas
present under the tree that has been professionally wrapped – as opposed
to the one your husband or boyfriend slammed together with the 99-cent
paper and three pounds of tape – you take notice. The quality of the
paper shines, the lines are even and the bow blooms. Of course, the gift
inside is the real payoff, but the presentation does make a difference
in the entire essence of gift giving.
If you’re a jobseeker,
consider the present metaphor when you’re putting together your plan of action.
Think of the gift inside the box as your resume and the wrap job as your cover
letter. The cover letter will be the first document a potential recruiter will
lay his or her eyes on. Do you want it to look like that shabby, gift wrap job
your significant other spent two minutes on? Ah, no.
The cover letter generally
is your opening statement and accompanies a resume. It should be quick and to
the point. More than a page or excessive rambling will land that cover letter
and your hopes of attaining a job in the trash.
So, since you need a
strong cover letter, where do you start? Do you cut and paste the form cover
letter and fill in the blanks with names and company information? That will save
time if you’re doing the shotgun approach to job hunting, but will it be
effective? There is also the creative cover letter, which shows that you have a
sense of originality. But something that’s a bit too innovative can misfire as
The best approach is
probably a combination of both. Employers want to see cover letters that speak
directly to their needs, not the generic, “My skills and abilities will be a
perfect fit for your company.”
“If you’re going to go to
the trouble of writing to a prospective employer, you should write a really
amazing letter,” says career advisor Tracy Laswell Williams, the author of
The Essential Job Search Companion. “Gather the facts you’ll need, not only
to write a winning letter, but also to follow it up properly.”
The facts that Williams is referring to start with a contact name. If you’ve received a tip on an opening that you’re interested in, find out as much as you can about who the point
person is and address your cover letter appropriately with their name, title,
company and address. And by all means, triple check to make sure you’ve spelled
their name correctly. Other cover letters are used to respond to openings posted
on a job board, inquiries about possible positions or networking requests.
Don’t make the cover
letter a carbon copy of your resume. There’s no sense in repeating yourself.
Come up with new adjectives that explain the reasons you’re interested in the
particular job and organization and point out your experience and most
applicable skills in just a few sentences (3-5, for example). Needless to say,
appropriate grammar is a must. Whether you write your own cover letter or hire a
professional, make sure a second set of eyes looks it over. Simple mistakes
translate into sloppiness, and no employer wants someone who overlooks the small
Like your English term
paper, a cover letter includes a beginning, middle and end. Much more compact,
of course, but the same basic structure. The first paragraph should address why
you are writing; whether you’re responding to a specific job listing or
inquiring about potential opportunities. If you were referred by a friend or
colleague, mention his or her name. That should get the immediate attention of
The middle portion of a
cover letter contains something about yourself and what you have to offer. You
don’t have more than a few sentences to explain why you would be the best person
for the job, so make every word count.
Finally, the conclusion is
information on how you will follow up, whether it’s an email, letter or phone
call. Confirm that an employer has received your information. Remember, however,
that for many job listings, the follow up phone call is taboo. Recruiters stick
by the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” motto. And in today’s high-tech world,
email is fast becoming the most convenient and preferred method of contact for
For anyone seeking a job,
the cover letter goes beyond being just a business document. It represents who
you are and its ability to get you past first base should not be underestimated.
Keep it brief, simple, accurate and, above all, relative to the job in hand.
Teena Rose operates a prominent and
professional resume writing service, Resume to Referral.
She’s authored several career
books, including "20-Minute
Cover Letter Fixer"
to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book"
and "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales."
Teena Rose, CPRW, CEIP, CCM
Resume to Referral
7211 Taylorsville Road, Office 208
Huber Heights, OH 45424
Phone: (937) 236-1360
Fax: (937) 236-1351