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The internet has opened the pathway for a global workforce to collaborate with a global list of customers. Opportunities are more than ever. But the competition has become fiercer as well. You get a narrow window to grab the client’s attention with your cover letter and resume.
The cover letter you send online needs to be on point about your skill set and experience. It has to be precise but pleasing. And it needs to omit some common cover letter mistakes which could derail that first impression.
Here are some key mistakes you need to avoid while drafting your next cover letter.
Mistake 1: Making the Letter Too Long
Avoid focussing on every tiny detail from your previous work history and educational background. While being honest about your background is a plus, no hirer is going to wade through a long essay describing why you’re perfect for the job. All the interviewer wants to know is if you are qualified and experienced. Both these facts can be stated in a few lines of text.
Mistake 2: Being Too Informal
There is a new focus on “fun” and “relaxed” work environments by the millennial generation. And that makes some candidates eager to prove they are “fun” and “relaxed” as well. This can result in cracking jokes in the middle of your cover letter. Or addressing the client in an informal or familiar manner.
Such an approach will not endear you to your prospective boss. When you’re spending money to hire someone, your first line of inquiry is finding out if the candidate can behave in a professional manner online. Appearing too flip or as if the whole thing is a joke to you will convince the client that you are not taking the work seriously.
Note: Being professional does not mean you must always appear dead serious, either. But revealing your “fun” side should be saved for after you actually get hired for the job and can prove yourself to your client by the quality of your work.
Mistake 3: Sharing Inappropriate Personal Details
Sometimes, companies get cover letters from candidates in which the candidates mention inappropriate personal details. Like a weak personal financial situation, failing health or other other problems. The aim is clearly to garner sympathy from the client and emotionally blackmail them into giving the candidate the job.
This tactic is considered unprofessional. It also lets the client know that you have such little faith in your skills that you need to resort to begging for the job. As far as possible, avoid mentioning all references to your personal life unless it has a direct relation to the job you’re applying for.
Mistake 4: Being Too Complimentary
You may be applying to a company that you have long since admired. Or it may be one that you are unfamiliar with. In either case, avoid paying too many compliments to the client about themselves or the company. Most people are hard-wired to detect and are turned off by false, effusive praise.
If you feel like complimenting the company, do it in a way that does not appear to be too fawning. Keep your praise brief, but also let the client know that you are aware of their achievements, and admire them for it. Then express your desire to add value to their enterprise by offering your skills for the job.
Tip: Check out our full list of do’s and don’ts for professional networking while on social media.
Mistake 5: Spelling and Grammar Errors
There are many free language check programs that you can use while writing a letter. And yet, it is surprisingly common to send in cover letters that are riddled with typos and poor grammar. This creates the impression of an absent-minded worker or someone who is simply ignorant of proper language and communication principles.
In case you’re having doubts about a particular word or phrase, it is better to google the word first instead of jamming it into the letter. If you are presenting yourself as an expert in your field of work, yet are unable to remember to properly use the relevant technical terms, the client will question your credentials.
Mistake 6: Sounding Too Generic
The internet is bursting with free resume and cover letter templates to get you started. There are also many sites that let you know the exact writing style and wording to use in a cover letter. But sticking too closely to the template can itself be problematic. Most clients get dozens to hundreds of online cover letters for a job.
If your letter is too generic, it will sound just like a dozen others who also used the same template as you. Take the time to craft a personalized cover letter that shows you put thought and effort into applying for the job. While you can use the basic, pre-designed template you found online, the thought behind your writing must be your own.
Mistake 7: Not Following Instructions
The more professional a company is, the longer will be their set of instructions for applying for a job. Any candidate who does not follow the instructions is automatically removed from the running. You might read the first paragraph of the job offer, see that it perfectly fits your qualifications, and dash off a response without waiting to read the entire job post.
This makes you miss out on the important details regarding cover letter submissions that are usually included near the end of the full text. Take the time to carefully study the post, and understand what kind of a candidate the client is looking for, and exactly how they want you to get in touch with them.
The Art of Writing Efficient Cover Letters
Think of cover letters like your first handshake with a prospective client. You need to be warm and friendly, but also firm and confident. It is a tricky balance to strike, but not impossible to achieve. Read through as many cover letters available online as possible to get an idea of how the experts write cover letters that close the deal.
If writing a new cover letter for each new job application seems like a hassle, Google Forms can automate the entire process for you. Remember to make the necessary modifications to the text according to the instructions mentioned in each new job post.