For so long the job application process seemed consistent from industry to industry and job to job. Regardless of the role to which you applied, three things were necessary: a resume, cover letter and list of references. As technology has advanced and time has progressed the application process has become easier than ever, yet some things remain the same: the need for a resume as part of the completed application.
However, it seems that the inclusion of a cover letter has almost become a thing of the past. According to a Jobvite survey of recruiters nationwide, 47 percent of recruiters find the cover letter to be an important factor when evaluating potential candidates. While the majority of recruiters may not think the cover letter will make or break your chances at landing a job, you never know what bucket the person evaluating your application will fall in.
In order to cover all your bases, you should write a cover letter. There are many benefits to a well-written one, including: a chance to tell your story, you can show your specific experience that applies to the role and it shows the employer that you took the time to write one so you take the job seriously. While writing a cover letter can be time-consuming, it is important to make it specific to each role you are applying to so that it helps your candidacy instead of hurting it.
To make sure your cover letter sets you apart from other candidates, our friends over at TopResume found some common and costly mistakes that job seekers must avoid when writing their next cover letter. Check out the complete list here.
Lack of Research
The easy way out when addressing your cover letter is to use “To Whom It May Concern.” Sure, this might have been acceptable back in the day, but in today’s digital age, information is available with just a few clicks of a mouse. As a result, if your cover letter doesn’t address the specific hiring manager or recruiter then you are likely hindering your chances at getting hired.
According to career expert Amanda Augustine, “If you skip this step, you’re sending the message to the reader that you don’t really care enough about the position to do your homework.”
That said, often times companies post jobs anonymously. If this is the case, you’re not expected to include the name of the hiring manager in your cover letter so a generic salutation is acceptable.
Repeating Your Entire Resume
A cover letter should supplement your resume, not be a duplicate. When applying to jobs, you submit both, so the hiring manager already has a copy of your resume; there is no need to repeat it. Many people don’t know what they should include in their cover letter, so they tend to go more in depth about their work history. This is likely why 63 percent of recruiters don’t think a cover letter is necessary.
You should use your cover letter to highlight specific experience that pertains to the role you’re applying to. Use key words found in the job description to detail what you’ve done and how you can apply it to this new role. Augustine says, “One cover letter tip is to surprise the hiring manager by using your opening to demonstrate your understanding of the company’s position in the marketplace and its needs and then highlight your experiences and accomplishments that speak to these requirements.”
One of the traps that job seekers fall victim to when it comes to cover letters is generic messaging. If you’re applying to jobs in bulk,it is common to create a cover letter template where you can insert new job titles and company names. However, after applying to countless jobs it becomes all too easy to slip up and send cover letter “x” to company “y” which seemingly ends your chances before they even started.
To make your cover letter more specific, Augustine recommends making a list of the top 3-5 requirements for the role and use them in the body of your letter. You can mention how you possess the qualifications and reference specific past experiences to show how you meet them. Not only does this make your cover letter more specific, but it also shows the hiring manager you took the time to research and how you can help the organization.
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes in the rush of applying to many jobs can cause us to be a bit careless. As a result, our cover letters might be riddled with typos which likely means our application will get tossed right into the “no” pile.
Instead of relying solely on spell check, read through your cover letter out loud a few times. Once you’ve done this, read it again. Then you can give it to someone you trust to read through it. Having a second set of eyes will help you pick up things you didn’t the first time.
Although some hiring managers and recruiters don’t care for a cover letter, some industries and specific companies still require them as part of the application process. If you want to stand out to the hiring managers or recruiters, make sure you avoid these, as well as the rest of TopResume’s most common cover letter mistakes.