Why Your Cover Letter is Keeping You from Your Dream Job

Posted by Elizabeth McLeod On Dec 16, 2014 9:00:00 AM
Why Your Cover Letter is Keeping You From Your Dream Job
First, let’s address the question of should you send a cover letter.  Yes, you should.  “Not sending a cover letter is a sign of laziness.  It’s akin to making spelling and grammar mistakes in your résumé.  You just don’t do it,” says Jodi Glickman, a communications expert and author of Great on the Job.
The days of cookie cutter cover letters are long gone, and simply including one is not enough to separate yourself from other applicants.  Although it varies with the company and the job, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening.  In this job market, you have to stand out, and writing a killer cover letter is the perfect opportunity to do so.  Typos aside, there are six mistakes that may not seem detrimental on the surface, but can be enough to keep you from getting a call back.

1.  Addressing your letter with “To whom it may concern”

This makes for a rather impersonal starting point.  Do some research, and find out exactly who will be reading your cover letter.  This is easier than you think.  The Muse suggests, “Go to LinkedIn and do a People search using the company’s name as your search term.  Scroll through the people working at that company until you find someone who appears to be the hiring manager.”

2.  Not being specific

Changing the company name and position title in your generic cover letter is not enough to stand out from other applicants.  Hiring managers can tell.  If your letter lacks specific examples relevant to the job description or reasons why you are interested in that company above others, you may appear uninterested.  It takes time, but writing a tailored cover letter to each position that you are applying for will give you a great return on investment.

3.  Omitting examples

Don’t assume the hiring manager will take you for your word when you say you have “superior leadership skills.”  Try giving an example, or telling a story that defends your claim.  These can give the hiring manager a more vivid and memorable picture of how exactly you’ve excelled in the past, and how you meet the qualifications for the position.

4.  Leave nothing to the imagination

Your cover letter does not need to be a novel.  It certainly doesn’t have to be lengthy to be effective.  Keep it short and simple.  Three or four short paragraphs are usually enough.  Remember, the objective of this letter is to get you called in for an interview, not to recite every single reason why you would be perfect for the job.

5.  Failure to ask for the interview

Your cover letter should always end with a call to action.  Your goal at every stage of the hiring process must be to move the process along to the next step.  At the end of your cover letter, ask for the interview.  Glassdoor has compiled a great list 5 Phrases To Close Your Cover Letter & Land The Interview.

6.  Technology Flukes

If you are applying to a position via web, do your best to avoid any potential technology mishaps when submitting your application.  Harvard Law School recommends, “If you are sending your materials electronically, and no file format is specified, convert your files to PDF to preserve formatting.  Be sure to include both your last name and the type of document (resume, writing sample, etc.) in the filename to facilitate the recipient's ability to store and locate these files.”

Keeping these mistakes out of your cover letter can get you one step closer to landing that dream job.

TAGS: Interview Tips, Job Search

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