5 Mistakes You Should Never Make

John Krautzel
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Your cover letter is typically the first contact a prospective employer has with you and is your best opportunity to make a strong first impression. Unfortunately, far too many job applicants leave the employer shaking his head thanks to the easily preventable mistakes. Here are some of the mistakes you should avoid to make sure you keep your resume at the top of the pile.

Spelling and Grammatical Errors

If you send out a cover letter filled with spelling and grammatical errors, you send the message that your work is sloppy and you don't bother to finish it. If you're applying for a job where writing or communications skills are crucial, these errors are even worse. Avoid these issues by first going over your cover letter word by word and then having someone else proofread as well, as a second pair of eyes might pick up something you've missed.

Opening by Stating Your Name

You don't need to start your cover letter with a sentence like "My name is Jane Doe." If you sent a hard copy, presumably it's already on letterhead which provides that information. If you sent it via email, the recipient will already have seen who the sender is. Don't waste your crucial first sentence on something the hiring manager already knows. Instead, craft a powerful introduction designed to catch a recruiter's eye and make him want to keep reading.

Sending It to Someone Without a Name

Sending a cover letter addressed to "Whom It May Concern" is almost the same as tossing it directly into the trash. It sends the message that you aren't interested enough in the position to find out who the hiring manager or human resources contact is. Do just a little research and track down the name of the person who will read your resume. Address your letter to that person to ensure it actually gets read.

Repeating Your Resume

Your cover letter is intended to introduce the reader to you and to your resume. Don't waste space repeating what's already in your resume. Instead, use your cover letter to mention the kind of information that doesn't typically appear on a resume. For instance, if you have a personal connection with the company you're applying to, mention it, whether it's a contact within the company or experience with the company's products or services.

Writing a Letter That's Too Long

The temptation in writing a cover letter is to tell everything you can about yourself hoping something will intrigue the hiring manager enough to call you in for an interview. Don't fall prey to this trap. Your letter should be a maximum of one page, preferably less. If it takes up only half a page, don't feel as if you have to pad it. You don't need to explain why you're looking for a new job or making a career transition. Just include enough interesting content to make the recruiter or manager want to meet you.

Your cover letter can open doors or slam them shut depending on how well it's written and edited. Take the time to customize it for every job you apply for and proofread it well to make the best possible first impression.


Photo courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhoto.net



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Barbarbra are you getting interviews? You didn't mention that. Have you tried networking with employees of a company maybe through Beyond or through LinkedIn? What type of information are you looking for? Have you researched the company on the Internet to find the information you are seeking? I know it seems like a lot - 3 months. It feels like it has been forever but ask yourself if you are giving it your all. Finding a new job is a job in itself. Make sure that you are giving it the time and attention it deserves and that you aren't just applying to a position and then walking away. Keep a daily journal and follow up with the prospective companies. Get out and network if you can. Don't be afraid to let family, friends and acquaintances know that you are looking for a job. What about former co-workers? Keep searching and never lose heart. The job is out there - you will find it.

  • Barbarbra C.
    Barbarbra C.

    Been there and tried that. Many companies are not accepting or giving out information over the phone or thru their web contacts. I have been trying to break down the barriers to get hired for more than 3 months.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Joya - there are many places that you can find out more about the company and the names of those who work there. You can call the company and ask for the name of the hiring manager for the particular posting. You can check them out on the Internet just by googling the company and doing your own research. You can use LinkedIn to find out more about the company as well as get in touch with others who work there. Maybe you know someone who works at the company - maybe a former co-worker - that you can get in touch with an ask. Hope this helps.

  • joya w.
    joya w.

    How do you locate hiring manager name or name of person that will read your resume? I am finding it very difficult to get the basic information about companies let alone the direct contact names, they just don't give out that information anymore and yes, I have gone on-line to company site and still no luck. Help please.

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