Making the first impression is key when you are job hunting. A good cover letter can mean the difference between being called for an interview or being placed in the “nope” pile.
Having an informative, professional and eye-catching cover letter is important to ensure you are seen by your potential future employer and can set the stage for a review of your resume.
Below is a list of common mistakes made on cover letters and how to avoid them when putting yours together.
Not having a cover letter
Cover letters are a great opportunity to make a sales pitch for your candidacy. By not including one with your resume, it can reduce your chances of being noticed by the review team. It’s true, some positions don’t require you to provide a cover letter with your resume, however, there’s nothing to say that you can’t go the extra mile and add one anyone. A brief summary of your relevant skills to the position you are applying for and experience can go a long way.
“To whom it may concern” may sound formal but in fact, it comes across as impersonal. In most cases, the job listing will include a name or title of who the candidate will be reporting to, so it makes sense to address your cover letter to this person as they will most likely be the ones reviewing your application.
Using a template cover letter
Try to remember that reviewers of job applications can be sifting through hundreds of cover letters, so you want yours to stand out from the rest. Whilst using a cover letter template can help you gather your thoughts in a clear format, it can also be a disadvantage as they can all start to blend together to the reader. Stick to a tight format that allows your personality to shine so that you can stand out from the crowd. There are several pieces of information to include in a cover letter (more of that to come). Include that information but make sure it fits with your writing style and the role you are applying for.
Long cover letter
You aren’t writing an essay! Cover letters should be no more than a page in length and only include two to three short paragraphs that clearly lay out your career achievements/milestones, goals and the reason/s you are applying for the job.
Summarising your resume
PSA: A cover letter is NOT a summary of your resume. If it were, what would be the point of your resume? The cover letter should focus more specifically on the position you are applying for and how your skills and experience can provide value to the company. Think of it as a short story about your goals, career plans and other information that might be challenging to include in the traditional resume format.
It’s not all about you!
Hot top: review and re-review the job description before drafting your cover letter. You want to make sure you can highlight your past experiences by applying them to the points included in the description to show the parallels between the two. Sure, there will be some instances where you need to show off yourself a little but try to ensure you include details on how you can contribute to the team, company, and industry.
Stay away from the personal info
This one is pretty obvious, but you can never be too sure- it’s probably best to skip things like marital status, daily exercise routines or political/religious views. These points will make zero difference in the review process.
Missing key contact information
This one is common! Many applicants fail to include their contact information on their cover letters which can lead to a difficult time for follow up post-submission. A well-formatted cover letter should have a header section identical to your resume. Include your email address, phone number, and optional mailing information. Not having this information can lead to your application being skipped altogether. We don’t want that, do we?
Grammatical and spelling errors
No, no, no! Especially in this day and age where there is an abundance of tools to help you spell check. If you aren’t comfortable trusting the internet to check your work for you, have a colleague or friend read over your cover letter and resume. There’s a good chance they’ll catch something you haven’t.
If you need assistance in writing a cover letter or resume, ACM Healthcare can help! Contact me today at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.