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5 Ways Your Cover Letter Lost You the Job
Cover letters are a blessing and a curse. They give you some elbow room to discuss your qualifications, which is a welcome relief from theA�crunched bullet points of a resumeA�. But because of that freedom (and that intimidating blank page to fill), ita��s easy to veer off in the wrong direction and make some common mistakes that can pretty much guarantee youa��re not getting a call back.
If youa��re in my cover-letter-writing boat, chances are youa��ve made some of these blunders before. Read on to learn five of the most common cover letter mistakesa��and how you can turn them into successes.
1. You Didna��t Listen to Your Career Counselor
If youa��ve ever set foot in aA�career resource centerA�, youa��ve heard all the basic dos and dona��ts of cover letters. But somehow, rookie mistakes still make their way into even experienced job seekersa�� writing. If, for example, you address the cover letter a�?Dear Sira�? when the hiring manager is a woman, you fill three entire pages with your every achievement since kindergarten, or you forget to proofread and let the opening line read: a�?I absolutely love youa��re company!a�?a��ita��ll go straight into the trash can.
Youa��ve probably heard this advice time and again, but unfortunately, job applicants keep making these classic mistakes, so it bears repeating: Keep your cover letter to a single page, pay attention to details (e.g., address the letter specifically to the hiring manager by name), and most importantlya��proofread, proofread, proofreadA�. And then, proofread again.
2. You Regurgitated Your Resume
Your cover letter is meant to complement your resumea��not reiterate it. So, it wona��t do you much good if you simply take the best bullet points from your resume and repeat them in your cover letter. If your cover letter and resume are replicas of each other, why submit two documents in the first place?
A job application is supposed to be a representation of you as aA�whole, well-rounded potential employeeA�a��so between your various application materials, you should aim to convey a variety of pertinent information. Instead of just repeating yourself (a�?I was in charge of reviewing invoice disputesa�?), use your cover letter to describe additional details that you werena��t able to squeeze onto the single page of your resume: a�?By resolving invoice disputes, I gained a deep analytical knowledgea��but more importantly, I learned how toA�interact calmly and diplomatically with angry customersA�.a�? A cover letter gives you the freedom to use full sentencesa��instead of bullet pointsa��so use them to expand upon your resume points and tell the story of why youa��re the perfect fit for the company.
3. You Used a Canned Version
You may not love the idea of composing a unique cover letter for each job you apply to, but ita��s worth it. When a recruiter reads, a�?A�Dear Hiring ManagerA�, I am so excited to apply for the open position at your company, where I hope to utilize my skills to progress in my career,a�? she immediately recognizes it for what it isa��a stock cover letter that youa��ve mass-distributed to every place in town. And thata��s not going to fly with a company that wants employees who are truly excited about its unique mission and vision.
Write a cover letter that’s specific to the job and company youa��re applying to, explaining why youa��re interested in that particular position. If you take the time to write something thoughtful (a�?Ia��m a daily reader of your companya��s blog. YourA�post about personal brandingA�actually inspired me to start my own bloga��and that has given me the perfect experience for the open role of Marketing Content Specialista�?), youa��ll instantly convey that you are genuinely interested in that particular company.
4. You Highlighted Your Weaknesses
If you dona��t meet the basic requirements of the job, your resume will clearly indicate thata��so you dona��t need to begin your letter by stating, a�?I knowA�I dona��t actually have any coding experienceA�or know much about computers, buta��a�? That simply shines light on the fact that youa��re not qualified. And once the recruiter realizes that, she probably wona��t make it to the part of the letter where you try to convince her that she should hire you anyway.
Focus on explaining how your past experiencea��regardless of how irrelevant it may seem at firsta��will translate to this new role. This is the beauty of cover letters: Resumes barely allow enough room for a few bullet points of duties and accomplishmentsa��but cover letters let you more thoroughly explain how those experiences will make you a perfect fit for any position.
For example, perhaps you were a manager of a bakery in the past,A�but want to apply for a writing positionA�. The experience doesna��t seem to correlate, does it? But, when you highlight the fact that you composed, edited, and published your previous companya��s training materials and employee handbook, you suddenly do, in fact, have that required experience.
5. You Focused on What the Company Can Do for You
When you apply to a job youa��re really excited about, ita��s natural to want to convey your enthusiasm to the company: a�?Ia��ve wanted to work for your company since I was littlea��this would be my dream job, and it would mean so much to me if you would grant me an interview!a�?
But when a hiring manager reads a cover letter, she wants to see what a potential employee would do for her companya��not what the job would do for you. She wants to hear about the unique skills and expertise youa��d bring to the team and how youa��ll help the company grow and succeed.
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While ita��s fine to convey that youa��re excited about a position, use a slightly different anglea��one that shows how your enthusiasm will directly benefit the company: a�?I was very excited to find this open position because Ia��ve been following your companyA�since its startup phaseA�. My thorough understanding of your companya��s background and mission means that I can jump in and make contributions to your marketing team right away.a�?
Now youa��ve shown that the relationship will be mutually beneficial: Youa��ll have a great job with a company you lovea��and the company will have a valuable, skilled, and enthusiastic new employee (who, coincidentally, is also an amazing cover letter writer).