cover letter sabotageBy Marcia Powers
Contributor, Career Services

A cover letter, when done right, can help set you apart from your competition and solidify your chances of getting the interview. However, using a poorly written cover letter (or no cover letter at all) can sabotage your opportunity. Before submitting your next job application, check to make sure you haven’t made any of the following cover letter mistakes:

Not writing one

If you really want the job, always invest your time in a cover letter. Why? Because the cover letter is more than just a formality; it compliments your resume. Recruiters and hiring managers often look to the cover letter to gauge an applicant’s interest, determine whether someone referred them to the position, or verify that the applicant indeed possesses the effective written communication skills that are boldly listed on their resume. True, some hiring managers may choose to bypass the cover letter and go straight to the resume. But, if you do not submit a cover letter to a hiring manager that expects one, your application will probably head toward the “No” pile.

Submitting the same, general cover letter for each position

If you are not updating the vast majority of your cover letter for each position you apply for, it will be very, very obvious to the employer. And no, simply updating the position title and company name is not going to cut it. In order to persuade the employer that you are an excellent candidate, your cover letter must speak to the unique needs of the position and employer. Like your resume, you should be devoting ample time to tailoring each cover letter you send out. No two cover letters should ever be the same.

Regurgitating the same information on your resume

Do not list information from your resume verbatim on your cover letter. Instead, wow the employer by telling something new or different that cannot be easily conveyed on your resume. For example, you might express why you are interested in the position, explain how your skills will benefit the employer, or demonstrate your capabilities with examples. This is your chance to really show off your writing skills, so take advantage of it!

Forgetting to mind your manners

Your cover letter is often the first personal interaction you will have with an employer; make sure it’s a positive one. You would not believe how many cover letters I see that do not contain a single “Please” or “Thank You.” Mind your Ps and Qs and always put your best foot forward.

Do not let a poorly-written cover letter be the reason why you don’t get the job. Always write a personalized, quality cover letter to help you stand out!

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