We can call resume a technical document. There is no room for errors in a technical document. What you present in your resume is correct data. For example, suppose you were born on 22nd April 1986. This is a fact. That data is verifiable. It’s accurate. So is your education. Only a unique person like you has one hundred percent verifiable data that is linked to you and your records, whether they are your parents, your academic grades, sporting achievements, and/or any other.
On the other hand, technically speaking a cover letter may not be a ‘technical’ document which is equivalent to a resume under context, it highlights your other skills which may not be limited. This is the reason why we need to be more careful in preparing the cover letter. Directly all errors and inaccuracies in creating a cover letter contribute to your failure to instigate the HR personnel sending you the call letter.
So let us go through the 10 most common cover letter mistakes and see how you can overcome them. These tips come from my experience writing thousands of cover letters and resumes for you.
- Career Objectives: The first thing you should do is address the cover letter of the job you are applying for. The HR executive is not interested in how that particular position will help you progress in your life. He is more concerned with what you did, how you are helping the current employer, or how you are helping the previous employer. Your cover letter should reflect your genuine interest in the position you are applying for. Ideally, it should also be clear how long you want to be with the company, should you be invited to join them. Ponder the difference between these two real-life examples:
Incorrect example: “I am searching for an administrative position in the purchasing department to help me improve my bargaining skills. because my experience as a sales executive is grateful”
Perfect Example: “This sales executive position excites me and I’m sure I’ll get a chance, I’ll be able to make a significant role in the business. You can kindly consider my performance in my current position.”
- Wasted Space: Ideally cover letters need not extend beyond four paragraphs. You’ll be wasting precious white space by repeating the obvious – mentioning the position and how you found out about it and why you’re applying, especially when it appears in the “Vacancy” column. Instead, it would be better to just mention the skill sets that you possess and how you will be able to add value to the position you are looking for. A lot of rhetoric will go out the window and only that matters, in this instance, your people skills and your experience should be highlighted. Mentioning other things that are irrelevant to the current assignment you’re eyeing only weakens your cover letter.
False example: “This is a reference to the ‘vacancy’ position, ad that appeared in today’s The Times, page 4 for the Director of sales position. I graduated from Midlands University, majoring in sales management.” Let HR Executive know that you have applied for this position. Also, you have already mentioned this in your resume. It would be better if you stayed to establish your skill set as a salesperson and how you helped your current employer reach the goals you set.
- Cover Letter Template/Form: There are a lot of sites out there that have a template or a form letter. It’s like entering a shop and taking off your shirt. A shirt has a collar, two sides, a pocket, and buttons on the front to keep it in place. Like any letter, you have an address, a topic, an introductory paragraph, an introduction, and a detailed description of it in the next paragraph and then you have a closing. There the similarity ends. The shirt fabric is different. Which shirt you pick depends on the occasion that you have in mind. The same is the case with cover letters. The situation you are looking for is different. The employer is unique. So what are their expectations from you? You need to tailor your cover letter exactly to the needs of the potential employer. You don’t pick up a unisex, fit-all shirt. Likewise, you don’t have a universal cover letter template or form. Each task is unique. So is every employer. Your cover letter should clearly explain your commitment to HR and familiarity with the position you are willing to enter. HR can identify a template or form letter and throw it in the trash or take it to the recycle bin.
In a real-life situation, I came across a template in which the applicant filled in the blanks with a pen. Worst case scenario – you’re insulting HR.
- Don’t beg: Never put your sadness in your cover letter and don’t beg for a job. You should always measure your positive attitude and make a strong pitch about why you think you are a better fit for the position. You should be more determined in your cover letter and not be desperate at all. The HR person should get a lot of optimism and enthusiasm from you towards the position. On the other hand, should you speak your heart out about how important this job is to you, your desperate plea for the job may turn it off. However, a fine line often separates the two, so the best advice would be to follow your instincts.
Wrong example: One of those cover letters contained this argument: “Look, my mom is in the hospital and I have to pay those bills. So please help me with this.” A classic shout from the top of the roof, “I need a lot of money!”
- Missing Resume: Check. Once. check again. double-check. Check that all attachments are in place. You have also mentioned in your postscript that you have attached your resume. But you forgot to staple it. It’s all too easy to forget to attach a file when sending your cover letter via email. This is a fatal mistake. That HR will not call or mail you and will not ask you to send the resume again. Because there are so many others who did it right without that serious and fatal oversight.
- Typing mistakes: You call them typos. It’s very easy to make all those typographical errors. But it’s also all too easy for HR to discard your cover letter, especially when it’s full of annoying typing mistakes. You are deliberately playing into his hands. You are helping them make a choice that is detrimental to your success.
Here are some common technical mistakes to look for when proofreading your letter:
Check the spelling of the employer’s name and see that you have it correct.
Check to get the correct spelling of the names of the person hiring.
Check the address, email, and phone number frequently, and make sure you’ve got them right.
It is very easy to mistake the name of one organization on the envelope and the name of another on the cover letter, especially when you are making multiple applications at once. Please proofread and spell-check.
- 7. Correction: Your cover letter should contain all relevant information. If for some reason you forgot to include your contact details or details such as email or your phone number and such things, please do not try or write again. My sincere advice to you is to fill in those details and take a printout of it again. It is considered unprofessional if you try to write, fill in by hand or, worse yet, be lazy. Please avoid using Post-Its or pasting anything on the cover letter. Do not use correction fluid either. It’s always a good idea to rewrite and reprint. But before you reprint it, proofread it for mistakes and omissions, and commissions.
- 8. Photograph: Unless you are specifically asked to send your photograph, do not volunteer it. They are in the serious business of hiring talent that will complement their own talent pool and not otherwise. So please avoid pinning, stapling, or attaching your photos to cover letters or resumes.
- 9. Signature: Last but not least. I have come across many cover letters and resumes that are not signed by the candidate applying for the job. You should attach your signature at the end of your cover letter and ideally on your resume.
- 10. Stationery: Please avoid stationery that is flamboyant and bright colored. Never use your personal stationery to indicate that you are too careless about your job application. White and ivory-colored papers are best with black print.
Your signature gives that personal touch to your application. So do it. Sign it before mailing. Don’t use handwriting fonts and let that feeling spoil the personal touch. Sign it by black or blue ink.
Some more tips:
You can use Arial or Times New Roman font – size 10 pt. Do not use transparent or personal stationery while applying.
Give your cover letter a serious and professional tone.
Research the company you plan to join. Try to have accurate details. Today there are many avenues that are open for you to learn a lot about these organizations. However, when trying to include such data in your cover letter, make sure it is accurate and authentic.
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