Avoid Mistakes That Could Offend Potential Employer

John Krautzel
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It's widely accepted that when it comes to splitting two strong candidates for the same job, the cover letter can be the thing that makes or breaks an application. Sure, the resume has to be strong to portray a good candidate with all the necessary qualifications, but if you make even the simplest of mistakes in the letter, your application could end up in the bin.

The basis of a good cover letter (and an effective job search, for that matter) is ensuring you do your research. It's important to remember and consider the particular sector you're applying for, as well as the type of company or organization you're looking to work at. It's all well and good saying that you admire a company in a cover letter, but what if they aren't actually a company, so to speak?

Employers will immediately become aware that you aren't fully clued up on their business and their trade, and they may well throw your cover letter straight in the trash. The difference between an organization and a company is pretty big, so make sure you refer to them in the correct manner. The easiest way to ensure you get it right is to check the web address; a .com suggests a company, while a .org refers to an organization. Little tricks like this make your job search all the more successful in the long run.

Another common mistake that can easily cause offense to employers relates to the addressing of the letter. If you conduct some proper, thorough research, you'll be able to find exactly who you're supposed to be directing your cover letter to. Addressing it to the wrong person is only going to lead to one thing, and that's your application being instantly rejected. Also, make sure that any facts you're using about the company or organization in question are just that: facts. A cover letter littered with statements that turn out to be false don't just offend potential employers — they can anger them as well.

You'll often hear how important it is to have good spelling and grammar in a cover letter. There's nothing that could turn a prospective employer off more than you confusing "there" and "their," for example. This shows a lack of professionalism, and the overall image of your cover letter — no matter how strong the qualifications are — will plummet in no time.

While many people take great care in working on the strength of a cover letter, sometimes the little things can cause applications to be rejected. Avoiding basic mistakes, from misunderstanding the company to the smallest of spelling errors, will be of significant help to you in your quest to land the perfect job.


Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks @Wayne. Many of us are in the same boat as you are where we want to work but our age works against us. I say just keep on applying and do the best you can to make your resume age proof. Don't put HS grad dates or anything like that. As for your application for the position, I would wait a week or so and then contact the company about setting up an interview. This way you will know if they are taking your application seriously or not. They will never tell you that it's because of your age as it's against the law to discriminate. They may tell you, however, that they appreciate your application but they had other applicants that were more qualified. Just be prepared for that. And Wayne, keep applying. Do not sit around and wait for one company to respond. I wish you all the best.

  • Earl  Wayne T.
    Earl Wayne T.

    Hello, My name is Wayne Tilley, first name Earl. I don't know whether we are commenting on the same company or not. Anyhow, I just filled out an application for a CDL, and also the training for a truck driving job. Now I am going to assume that there is a problem with my age, 71, although everyone says they do not discriminate. I also sent along an explanation of some of my own self-training, and that is a trucking business that I experienced , that I loved, and also owned, before I retired a few years ago. I have been trying desparately for several years to get back into the work force, because of what little social security I get a month, compared to what I used to make in a business that I had before the trucking business, for 30 years. Just because I am 71 years old, does not mean that I am over the hill. I have a close friend , 74 , that has been driving for JB Hunt for about 30 years, accident free, and he loves his job. I have always loved the driving experience, even though it has been the low end of trucks. I have a resume that I can send , but all those new codes for sending has me baffled, so I haven't had much luck in sending a resume. So , in closing, I would just like to know one thing. Now I know it has only been about an hour or so since I have applied, and maybe you haven't had time to read my app. and my message, and if so, I appoligize . But as I was saying , if my application. is being turned down, does it have anything to do with my age? Oh yes , the reason that I gave up my trucking business, I just could not make any money at it. The insurance especially was unbelievable , plus the fuel and other expenses back then. It seems the DOT and other people connected is trying to keep down the number of self employed truck drivers. Thanks , Wayne Tilley

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Sherry I think that employers will be able to see that you were busy with school which is why you did temp work. You can always throw a sentence or two in your cover letter, too, explaining why you did so much temp work. They understand and they really do value education.

  • Sherry K.
    Sherry K.

    I need some advice as well....I have always worked at whatever job but the last year and a half I have completed all but 7 classes of my degree. I got married and done temp work and now I am searching for a career and finishing my degree. How would this look on a resume now and how do you think employers will react?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Katherina how exciting that you are moving to a new place. Make sure that your resume is updated and check out the new area for job fairs and other networking opportunities in your industry. When you meet new people let them know that you are new and are looking for a job. A lot of times word of mouth is even better than a job board. Check on the state website for jobs, too. When you submit your resume for a position, make sure that you are using keywords from the job posting and making yourself as presentable as possible. Keep a positive, upbeat attitude and the job will come. I wish you all the best.

  • katherina O.
    katherina O.

    i need some advice... I m almost 32 disabled with little work history can only work part time and m coming into a new state how do I make my self look like a good candidate if I don't have it

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    So very true @Yanga and something that many job seekers just do not get - personal conduct and taking responsibility for one's actions. Both great traits to have and to display.

  • yanga  martin
    yanga martin

    Presentation of personal conducts & responsible manners.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    If you are unable to find the hiring manager's name through the job posting, try using LinkedIn or do a search on the Internet for the company. If you still cannot find the hiring manager's name, try calling the HR of the company and ask. You can tell them that you are in the process of submitting an application and that you would like to have the hiring managers name so that you don't have to use "Dear Sir" or "To Whom It May Concern". They will understand and will usually offer up the name.

  • Terry P.
    Terry P.

    I agree concerning the Salutation; I have always started with "Dear Sir/Madam:" as that is how I was taught when not know the hiring manager(s) by name. Open to thoughts surrounding this please. The overall importance of a cover letter as explained by John is absolutely imperative regarding grammar, punctuation and etiquette.

  • Joyce R.
    Joyce R.

    You forgot to mention the Salutation. Not every organization likes to see a phrase "To Whom it May Concern" or the word "Dear". I have even questioned "To Mr.__". What is considered an appropriate salutation and 'closing' when you do not know the hiring manager by name?

  • Benjamin Martinez
    Benjamin Martinez

    thanks ... this is a big help

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