Some people will never read your cover letter and the rest may delete your resume if it does not include a cover letter. Others will value it above anything else. Since you don’t know which type of employer or recruitment consultant will receive your application, assume the cover letter is a crucial piece of the puzzle. Here are some don’ts to avoid cover letter errors that will stop your application in it’s tracks…
Forget to include a cover letter: Your cover letter is important, particularly if the job ad requests it. When you leave it off, you look lazy (at best) or can’t follow instructions (at worst).
Address your cover letter generically: “Dear Sir” is sexist and “To whom it may concern” makes people think it wasn’t important enough to identify the person running the campaign. Make an effort to find a name. Contact the company to ask for it and use your Internet research skills. As a last resort, “Dear Hiring Manager” may not keep you totally out of the running.
Add your cover letter as an attachment and write a brief note in the body of the email: If you apply via email, include your cover letter’s as the body of the email you send. That way, it’s easy for the recruitment consultant or hiring manager to decide whether to open your attached resume or press delete.
Send a boring cover letter: If you’re going to include a letter, it might as well be good enough to give you an increased chance of landing the job. If you send a boring letter you won’t pass the cover letter test for those recruitment consultants or hiring managers who demand a cover letter. Make sure it’s interesting enough to read.
Miss an opportunity to make a connection or tell a story: Not everybody has a good story or reason for applying, but if you do, use the cover letter to tell it. Was it the company where you started your career, and you are ready to come back? Have you always admired their TV ads , and now you want to apply to help create new ones? That’s a great story, so tell them.
Be arrogant: The cover letter should not be a note stating what you want. If you appear arrogant, the delete key will be pressed.
Include errors in your letter: This is the kiss of death for many job applications. Even if the job does not require you to create written materials for the company, if you misspell words or send a letter with typos and errors, it’s a mark against you. Edit your letter and ask a friend to read it.
Write a novel: No one wants a four page cover letter, no matter how interesting or perfect you are. Don’t feel the need to tell your life story. Write one page at most.
Use the cover letter to repeat everything in your resume: While you should make sure to include everything important in your resume, don’t just summarize this in your cover letter. Use this opportunity to make direct connections between the job ad and your skills.
Go over the top: Unless you are actually applying for a sales job, think twice before including sentences like, “I’ll call you on Friday to schedule an interview.” This is a no no for some recruitment consultants and hiring managers.