Mistakes To Avoid When Writing A Cover Letter

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Published: 11 Nov 2016      

With so much focus being placed on ensuring your CV is up to snuff, it can be easy to forget that a good cover letter can make all of the difference in whether it even gets read in the first place.

It is recommended that you provide a cover letter for all job applications, as it allows you to delve, however briefly, into some more information about you and particularly why your skillset would make you a good fit for the role.

The pressure to write a good letter can become too high though, with a number of mistakes tending to creep into cover letters that can turn potential employers off.

Focusing Entirely On Yourself

The key to writing a good cover letter is striking a good balance between writing about yourself and the company you are applying to. Remember that a well-written CV should do a great job of talking about you, so you don’t need to go over the same information again in your cover letter. Instead, any talk about you – and there should be some – should be related to the job you are applying for, what makes you an ideal candidate for the role and why you wish to be considered. Just talking about you serves little purpose without something to link it to the role.

Getting Too Deep

First impressions count, so avoiding using your cover letter as a means to wax philosophical on world issues, your views or issues that you have had with previous employers. Consider it as the first wave in your job application if you have to. What can you offer on the letter that isn’t in the CV but doesn’t give too much away about who you are? After all, by talking too much you may leave employers with the feeling they know everything they need to make a decision. This is particularly important for those who don’t feel as though written communication is a strength of theirs, as going too deep could prevent you from getting an interview.

Making It Long

Your potential employer’s time is limited and most jobs will have dozens, if not hundreds of applicants. Writing a novel as your cover letter is a sure-fire way to see it get skipped over because few people have time for that. Consider writing a list of points you want to cover and make sure the letter hits all of them while staying as concise as possible. Generally speaking, going over a page may be going too far.

Praising The Company Too Much

Employers want to hear about why you want to work for them, which may include some praise of the company, its ethics and values. However, going too far with this can make you appear dishonest. Think about how you might feel if people start complimenting you to the point where they are saying things even you don’t consider to be true. It’s uncomfortable and will likely make you think the other person has an agenda. Employers know you want the job, so cover the reasons why without going overboard on praise.

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