Employers will, on average, spend less than a minute looking over a job application. Writing a good cover letter is essential to grabbing their attention and putting you in with a chance of landing the job. Over 50% of hiring managers have stated that a cover letter is essential to an applications success. Time and time again candidates are making the same mistakes and damaging their employability. Here are 5 things you shouldn’t do when writing your cover letter!
Don’t be generic– Generic cover letters are the pet hate of most employers, as they imply an individual didn’t want to put in the time to write a letter to fit the role. Using the company or recruiters name (if available) can help personalise your covering letter and make you a more attractive prospect. Personalising a covering letter will allow you to adapt the letter to the role and help to persuade employers of your suitability for a position. A generic list of skills and personality traits will likely dissuade employers rather than persuade them of your capability.
Don’t just list all of your skills–Prioritise what you write about! If it isn’t mentioned in the job description then it isn’t needed. Remember your CV will be attached to the letter so any skills not referred to in your cover letter can be put into your CV. A long list can be just as off putting as no cover letter at all. If it isn’t in the job description then don’t waste space writing about it.
Don’t skip editing– Silly spelling and grammatical errors can harm your employability. This stage is particularly important if you are adapting a cover letter from a previous application. Failing to proof read a letter can lead to submitting an application that describes a different company or includes skills that are not relevant to a role. Double and triple checking a cover letter can help ensure your letter is persuasive and relevant to the application.
Don’t write too much– Try and keep your cover letter to one page. Don’t waffle! A hiring manager is likely to skim read a lot of applications and, therefore, pages and pages of text can be very off putting and can harm your application success. Be factual and to the point with what you say. Only write what is needed and no more.
Don’t write informally– Just because this is a letter and not a CV, it doesn’t mean you can be informal. Ensure you write a formal letter and use a tone that matches the culture of the company. Writing formally will demonstrate your professionalism and help to give a good first impression.