Cover letters can be a tricky thing to grasp. There is no exact right way to approach writing your cover letter but here are a few cover letter don’ts to ensure you don’t go down the wrong path…
- You haven’t tailored your cover letter to the company…
… or worse, you’ve used the same cover letter for multiple applications. This is a huge no-no. Your cover letter should demonstrate a decent level of research about the company and you need to ensure that you are selling yourself to them. Tailor your skills and experience to suit the requirements of the company and never, ever just use a generic cover letter for all. Employers will see this as lazy and will simply not be interested. Sorry not sorry.
- Forgetting it’s a letter
This means keep it short, formal, and with concise paragraphs. Avoid using slang and casual language but maintain some level of personality. Remember, this person wants to like you, but try to strike a nice balance between formal and over friendly. In terms of precise length, it is recommended to try and keep to 3 paragraphs and fit the letter onto one page of A4 only. If you are sending your cover letter via email, then the recipient is likely to want to view it all one screen, so be mindful as you write. The aim is to make it as easy and reader-friendly as possible for the recipient.
- Don’t be irrelevant!
Following on from the previous point, one of the best ways to cut down on length is to not include anything that isn’t directly related to the role you are applying for. Instead of providing your life story, select a few things from the job specification and write about how you can do these things. Irrelevant information can detract from all the wonderful good stuff you’ve put in your cover letter, so the trick is, do not write a sentence that won’t make the recipient want to hire you!
- Don’t forget to back up your points!
Don’t be that person who just lists claims to endless skills and experience and provides no depth, detail or evidence. For example, if you are applying for an administrative job position, simply saying ‘administrative experience’ will do you no favours. Instead you need to list specific administrative skills and where you acquired them and for how long. It is better to pick less skills (that are relevant to the role) and explain those in detail, demonstrating your knowledge and understanding of the demands of the job.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes
Now this may seem very obvious, even trivial, but silly mistakes are always the easiest mistakes to fall for. These kinds of mistakes will instantly brand you as careless and no matter how impressive all your experience and points may be, they will be completely undermined by a poorly written sentence. However, it can all be easily avoided; just make sure you proof read (multiple times) and you will be fine.
All in all, cover letters are not too tricky if you approach them with the right attitude. Cover letters are not an essay, and a high word count is generally not appreciated. A potential employer wants to hear why you are perfect for their company and in all honesty, not much else. So, relax, keep it short, and believe in yourself.
Post by Gabrielle Morris