Your resume and cover letter are equally important but completely opposite kinds of documents. Your resume is basically an outline of your skills and experiences. It gives hiring managers an easy way to scan your credentials. Your cover letter is where you make the case for why you’re fit for the job and better than any other candidate. It frames your credentials in the most relevant and enticing way possible. That’s why it’s so important to craft and revise the document carefully. Watch out for these common mistakes:
- Bad Writing. Your cover letter must be impeccable. Typos, grammar mistakes, and awkward phrasing all make you look unprofessional. If you don’t consider yourself a strong writer, have a friend or family member help you edit.
- Too Long. The goal is to make the biggest impression in the least amount of time. You cover letter should not be longer than one page, and should ideally be only three paragraphs. Make sure every sentence communicates something important.
- Too General. It’s never a good idea to rely on a stock cover letter. Start each one from scratch, and be sure that the language and details you include relate directly to the company and available job. Show them your the best fit for this
- Being Humble. Your cover letter is not a place to qualify your credentials, downplay your accomplishments, or be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknessses. In the short window of time you have, make yourself look as good as possible, just make sure you don’t lie.
- Being Arrogant. The opposite is just as big a problem. If you were a totally perfect, one-of-a-kind professional, you would either have a job or have recruiters beating down your door. Don’t make it sound like you deserve a job without being fully vetted.
- Over Explaining. You may be tempted to describe why you quit or were laid off from your past job. In most cases, this information is irrelevant and will only hurt your case. Focus on the positives and focus on the future.
- Bad Formatting. Something that looks great on a printed piece of paper may not look great in an email, inside a form, or posted on a social network. Make sure that you format your cover letter so that it makes an equal impact across platforms.
- Stopping Short. Most cover letters end with a pledge to follow up with the employer. End yours the right way, and then actually follow up. This helps demonstrate your interest in the position and keeps your name fresh in the hiring manager’s mind.
A great cover letter is important, but remember that it’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also need to have a polished resume, and turn in a great interview performance. Find resources to help you through every step in the process by working with The Concorde Group, a top staffing agency in Westchester.