Are These Mistakes Hurting You?

Nancy Anderson
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One of the most time-consuming tasks of the job search is preparing the cover letter. You may be wasting your time if you are making common mistakes that derail the application process. Seek out strategies to impress and inform the hiring manager when preparing your job materials by avoiding common mistakes that could reduce your career opportunities.

Using a Template

Candidates who use a cover letter template that includes general language that is not specific to the company or position are hurting their chances of acquiring an interview. Hiring managers can spot a template or generalized letter, especially when scanning through hundreds of application materials. Stand out from the rest of the candidates by personalizing your letter and providing details that are specific to the potential employer versus the industry as a whole.

Neglecting to Research the Company

Your job search efforts should focus on identifying companies you want to work for in the future. Research the mission, goals, products, services and company culture of businesses within your industry to identify appealing companies and to arm yourself with information that can be used in the cover letter. Focus on the company's accomplishments, and detail specifically why you want to work for the business by using specific examples found in your research.

Ignoring Key Qualifications

It isn't necessarily a waste of time to apply for positions when you don't possess all of the skills desired, but it is a waste of time if you don't highlight the skills you do have within your cover letter. Match your experience and skills to the desired traits and qualifications listed in the job description or advertisement. Make it easy for hiring managers to see that you have exactly what the company is seeking by using keywords from the job description within your letters. Highlight specific examples of your performance that are directly related to the qualifications desired.

Boring the Potential Employer

A cover letter is not necessarily designed to entertain the potential employer, but it does not have to bore hiring managers either. Engage the potential employer right away with a specific explanation of why you want to work for the company, and keep the letter brief and concise, avoiding fluff and information that is not relevant to the position. Candidates who use common phrases such as "I've always wanted to work for XYZ Company" tend to blend in with the rest of the applicants. Use phrases such as "I find the implementation of a new accounting process impressive," and then follow up with reasons why to show that you are knowledgeable about the procedures and processes of the company.

Job candidates must also avoid submitting a cover letter with grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. Proofread your letter thoroughly to ensure you portray a professional demeanor that captures the interest of potential employers.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Dar Saini yes it is necessary to write a cover letter UNLESS the job posting specifically asks for a resume only or otherwise indicates that they don't want one.

  • Dar Saini
    Dar Saini

    Is it necessary to write a cover letter?

  • Angela C.
    Angela C.

    I agree with Gina. The correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation are important for letters and resumes. I once got an interview because the hiring manager said I was the only person who sent an error free resume. I also got a job offer at the end of that interview. Little things mean a lot!

  • Gina D.
    Gina D.

    Yes to the correct grammar, spelling and punctuation - it seems obvious but trips up so many!

  • Gina D.
    Gina D.

    Good tips!

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