When it comes to Cover Letter faux pas, many of us know the big mistakes that can really wreck our chances at landing the job. This includes putting the wrong contact information, using the same Cover Letter for every job you apply to, making grammatical or typographical errors, or writing so much that your letter goes beyond two pages.
However, there are other errors—ones that may not be as obvious—that can also impact whether you’ll be asked for an interview. In this post, we lay out three minor Cover Letter mistakes that can majorly affect your job search.
1. Addressing the Wrong Person, Department, or Company
Nothing says “I don’t know anything about this company” more than addressing the wrong person, department, or company in your Cover Letter. In less than a sentence, the company you’ve applied to knows you’ve neglected to do enough research about their organization and may decide to move on to a candidate that has been more thorough in their research.
If you don’t know who to address your letter to, consider using a generic greeting such as “dear hiring manager”, “dear human resources manager” or “dear [company name]”.
It’s becoming less and less acceptable to use generic greetings and many hiring managers prefer something specific (like the company name, at least), but sometimes it’s not clear who you should address your Cover Letter to and using a generic salutation is simply unavoidable.
2. Not Addressing the Company
A Cover Letter can easily be all about you, your skills, and your experience, but it shouldn’t be. At some point, your Cover Letter should begin to address the company you’re applying to, particularly what you can offer and why you are applying.
Without addressing the company, your Cover Letter could read like a template or be impersonal, neither of which will help you stand out amongst qualified candidates.
Instead, ask yourself how your skills and experience align with the position and what about this company caused you to apply and then include it with your Cover Letter.
Considering this information now will also help you later on during the interview, when you’re inevitably asked why you want to work for that particular organization as opposed to another.
3. Superfluous Additions to Your Cover Letter
When filling a position, recruiters read through so many cover letters in an attempt to find perfect candidates for interviews. A Cover Letter that stands out is one that targets a particular position: it uses the specific keywords the company used in their job posting and explores the various skills and experience that the candidate has to offer the company.
In other words, the information you include in your Cover Letter should serve a purpose. This means you should avoid attaching that picture of your dog, even if it’s really cute, and instead ensure the contents of your Cover Letter directly relate to the job you are applying for.
For instance, if the job posting asks for a team player, a relevant inclusion for a Cover Letter could be a story about how a recent collaboration project went well and the various ways that project helped the company complete a particular goal. On the other hand, this story would be irrelevant to a position that didn’t ask about teamwork, such as a job that requires you to work remotely.
For most of us, staying on track can seem simple enough, but digressions can easily sneak their way into writing, especially if you, like most people, reuse and revise your cover letters to apply to other jobs.
To ensure the information you’ve included is relevant, read it objectively or ask someone else to. If you find information that isn’t as relevant as it should be, remove it and use that space for more valuable examples that explore your relatable skills and abilities.
Sending Your Cover Letter and Resume
It can be easy to make a mistake during your job search, but knowing these three things to look out for when sending your next Cover Letter should help to keep you looking professional and relevant during your job search.