Cover letters are tricky. Even the most experienced job seekers can struggle with writing the perfect cover letter to get their dream job. It is possible that transitioning veterans have never written a cover letter. While resumes are important, a cover letter allows you to stand out and might land you your dream job.
Here are 7 cover letter mistakes and tips to fix them.
Keep cover letters short and sweet. Aim for no more than 250 words. According to the Orange County Resume Survey, almost 70% of employers either want a half page cover letter. Your cover letter should include the job you want, the reason you are the best person for that job, and a few sentences about yourself and experience. Leave the major details and past job titles for your resume.
2. Writing is too formal
Skip the frilly language, which gives the impression you are trying too hard. Unnatural language is off-putting to hiring managers and doesn’t leave a good first impression. If you think your cover letter might be too formal, try reading it aloud to see if it flows naturally. It is still sounds too formal and frilly, try a re-write. Sentences like, “I wish to convey my interest in filling the open position at your fine establishment” are not ideal.
3. It is not relevant to the job or customized to the company
Not all cover letters have to be customized 100 percent to each company you apply for. However, adding a mention of a product, service, or something you’ve read about the company will give you bonus points with the hiring managers. Plus, this shows you made an effort to research the company and that you have a better idea of the job you are applying for than someone who didn’t do the same.
4. You’re not confident in your abilities
Avoid phrases like “I’m probably not the most qualified candidate” or “let me prove myself”. Cover letters are your chance to show off your skills and abilities, not throw a pity party. Instead of selling yourself short, mention a relevant accomplishment, skill, or experience relevant to the job.
5. Only focusing on yourself
The cover letter is mean to sell yourself and your skills to an employer, but you need to show how you can benefit them and not just yourself. State what you can do for the company, not what they can do for you. Do this my mentioning your skills and experience.
6. Delete the “fluff”
Avoid personal information in your cover letter and other irrelevant information. Some think this adds personality, but it only distracts from the purpose of your letter. Avoid sentences like “I’m hardworking” or “I’m a loyal employee.” Focus on your history and skills only.
7. Too much information about college
This might shock some but many employers do not care about your 4.0 GPA or what college you attended. It is perfectly fine to mention relevant activities from your college career or skills. Everything else is unnecessary.
Fix these common mistakes to ensure your application is read. Also, research cover letters in your career field for more ideas to stand out.