To land a job – whether it’s your dream job or simply a stepping stone to help you cut your teeth in the biz – your cover letter is the first impression you make to a potential employer. It’s how you market yourself. So you better make it good.
To help you out, here are my top 6 pet peeves in cover letters:
- Misspelled words – We’re a communications company. We do notice these things and you should too. Typos are easy to overlook (I know, I do it all the time). So proofread. Have someone else proofread and then send us the best you’ve got.
- Poor grammar – Whether it’s the misuse of words or exaggerated overwriting, poor word choice can make you stand out for all the wrong reasons. Make sure the words you use mean what you think they do and don’t try too hard. No one will discard your resume for being simple and easy-to-understand.
- Me, me, me Syndrome – Don’t tell me how my company will benefit you. Companies don’t hire people to build careers, they hire people to build business. Tell me what great and wonderful things you can bring to my company and I’ll want to help your career.
- Wrong company name – If you’re interested in multiple companies make sure you put the correct company name in your cover letter. Sending a letter to Talk for a position at The Quibbler only makes me think that you don’t care where you work as long as you land a job somewhere. (Or that you’re a Harry Potter fan, which may in fact get you an interview with me.)
- Submitting too early – If a company is hiring, they have an immediate need. If you’re not available now (ie: you graduate in May but it’s only January), they will put your resume in a file without a second glance.
- Generic introductions – “To Whom It May Concern”, “Hiring Manager” or any other form of non-personalized salutations should not happen. Period. In the age of the Internet it is easy to look up the company online and address your letter to a specific person.
Doing these things may not get you an automatic “Sorry, we’re not hiring” but they sure as heck won’t land you on top of the call back pile. Pay attention and be smart. That’s what will really impress the person on the receiving end of your resume.