Your cover letter is a valuable part of your job application package. It is an opportunity to present yourself in a more personal and casual way than your resume. Instead of short, concise bullet points, you can tell more of a story. However, that does not mean that you should forego professionalism or share your life story. It’s important to find balance and make it impactful yet to the point.
If you don’t have a strong cover letter, you’re wasting a great opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition. Here are a few common mistakes many job seekers make when it comes to crafting their cover letter, and which can negate their efforts.
- It’s too generic.
If your cover letter makes it sound like you could be applying to any position at any company, there’s a problem. It should send a clear message as to why you’re the best fit for this job at this company. Do your research and learn more about the company before you start writing. Select examples of your strengths that align with the company mission and vision, or show how you can ease pain points. Make sure you’re touching on the critical aspects of the role and what you bring to the table. If they want someone with exceptional analytical skills, call yours out – don’t downplay your abilities.
- It’s all about you.
Yes, you are talking about yourself and your strengths, but you should be doing so within the context of the job you are applying for. Employers don’t care as much about what you want as they care about how you can help their company. There is a fine line between underselling and overselling yourself. Don’t lose focus on what the purpose of the job you are applying for is, and how you will be a part of the bigger picture at the company.
- It’s too long.
Rule of thumb: one page max. If you’re running over onto two or three pages, or you have large blocks of text, you’re trying to say too much. Recruiters don’t want to read a novel. They want a quick snapshot of who you are, what you can do, and why you’re the right person for the job. Use bullet points to call out your main points, or break them down into smaller paragraphs. Don’t make hiring managers search for what they want to know, because more than likely they’ll simply stop reading and move on.
Your cover letter should complement your resume and provide additional information to support your candidacy. Use it as your opportunity to catch an employer’s attention and make them want to learn more about you.
This article originally appeared in Grammarchic.