Before they even get to your CV, most employers will focus on your cover letter. An effective cover letter shows that you can write well, think clearly, and offer the skills and qualities required to succeed in the job. We’ve rounded up the most common mistakes to avoid - getting your cover letter write is jumping the first hurdle on your way to securing an interview. 

 

Grammar and Spelling Errors

Submitting a cover letter peppered with grammar and spelling errors is a sure fire way to get you placed on the no pile. Don’t get lazy and just rely on spell check! Read through thoroughly to pick up on every error. We also suggest having a friend or family member review it too. Two sets of eyes are always better than one. 

 

Sending a Generic Cover Letter

A very common mistake is using a generic approach and sending the same cover letter to each employer. Don’t forget cover letters are a chance to mention the specific job you’re applying for. Carefully consider the characteristics of the ideal candidate, as listed in the job posting, and explain how your skills, experience and personal qualities will enable you to excel in that particular  job. 

 

Using an Outdated Greeting

Steer clear of old fashioned terms like “Dear Sir or Madam” if you don't have the name of the contact person. Instead try gender-neutral terms like “Dear Human Resources Manager” or “Dear Hiring Manager.” Address women as “Ms.” as opposed to Mrs.” or simply start with the first paragraph and don't address it to anyone. 

 

Cover Letter is too Short

Sending off a letter that is too short can send the wrong signal to employers about your work ethic or level of interest in the job. You will also miss a great opportunity to frame your background for employers and lead them towards a positive view of your candidacy.

 

Cover Letter is too Long

A long letter can often put employers off, and increase the likelihood that they will jump over your letter and move straight to your CV. Try to strike a balance. Aim for 3 to 5 paragraphs no longer than six lines each.

 

Including Too Much Information 

There is some information that doesn’t need to be included in your cover letter. In fact, including it can hurt your chances of securing an interview. Don't give employers any more information than they need to know.

 

Not Providing Concrete Examples 

It’s important to back up your statements about your skills and assets by referencing a job or role where you successfully employed that strength. Be aware that expressing empty opinions about your strengths will generally not convince employers about your suitability for the job. 

 

For example, instead of simply stating “I possess strong written skills and an outstanding work ethic,” try “Strong writing skills enabled me to revise a sponsorship proposal and secure £50,000 in additional sponsorship from the Jones Foundation.”

 

Not Expressing Enough Interest 

Don't leave the hiring manager wondering about your level of interest. Your cover letter is a chance to express genuine enthusiasm for the job so that the employer knows that you are highly motivated to pursue the job.

 

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