Top 10 Reasons Your Cover Letter Sucks

A solid cover letter highlights your achievements, showcases your personality, places you several steps ahead of other candidates… and is often be one of the most challenging aspects of the job search process.

Unfortunately, many poor cover letters cause many otherwise outstanding candidates to be passed over by hiring managers. While writing your cover letter might be a scary task, crafting the perfect one-page introduction of you, successfully, is essential to getting hired.

Don’t let your next cover letter be a flop; consider these ten common mistakes before you hit the ‘send’ button:

1. Riddled with Errors

There are many things the errors on your cover letter will express to a hiring manager: lack of attention to detail, carelessness, and even disinterest in the position. Your cover letter deserves to be triple checked for poor grammar, punctuation, and overall structure. Pass it along to your mentor or friends to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

2. Lacks Focus

What are you attempting to convey to the hiring manager? Writing about your professional experiences can be challenging, and it often causes job seekers to create unfocused cover letters. To write a more direct cover letter, consider creating a layout encompassing your main points.

3. Too Long

Respect the busy schedule of a hiring manager by utilizing brevity in every cover letter you create. Write short and succinct paragraphs to allow for a more easily read document. Sift through unnecessary details and only present the most beneficial information for the job at hand.

4. Doesn’t Set You Apart

Your cover letter is your chance to leave your mark on a hiring manager. Rather than reiterating what they can read on your resume, use this as an opportunity to share why you’re better for the job than any other candidate. Use a strong, purposeful statement of what you can bring to the position, and how you can positively benefit the company as a whole.

Sets You Apart5. Fails to Highlight Your Skills

While you certainly don’t need to highlight every single job you’ve had during your career, your cover letter should talk about your skills and experiences most beneficial to the company. Your cover letter isn’t for sharing your personal life or specific needs.

6. Missing Information

Job listings often require certain information from applicants. By failing to share the necessary information in your cover letter, you’re essentially removing yourself from the hiring process. Why would a hiring manager choose you over a candidate who went above and beyond to provide the correct details? Double check the qualifications needed for the position prior to sending it.

7. Tone is Wrong

While a cover letter is a professional document, it also gives your potential employer insight into your personality. Don’t rub a hiring manager the wrong way with long-winded bragging. Be sure to leave out arrogance, unprofessional information, and keep the company’s culture in mind.

8. Obviously Generic

Customization is key in every part of the hiring process. Submitting a generic cover letter presents you as an average candidate. Your cover letter is an opportunity to stand out and truly speak to a hiring manager – don’t settle for generic.

9. You’re Not Qualified

No matter how you twist and stretch your skills and experiences, you might not be the right candidate for the position. Applying to a position you’re under-qualified for is an all-too-common part of the job search. Keep in mind this not only wastes the time of the hiring manager, it also uses up the time and energy you could be spending on applying to position you’re more accurately matched.

10. You Don’t Have One

Just because a cover letter wasn’t mentioned in the job listing, doesn’t mean it’s OK to skip it – they are never optional. Your cover letter is an important opportunity to convey points you can’t in your resume. Omitting this document leaves you on the wrong side of the interview process.

Creating a strong cover letter may be a challenging… but is well worth the time and energy it takes to get it just right. Leave a positive first impression on hiring managers by going out of your way to create a concise, focused, and customized document!





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HeatherAbout the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets. Follow Heather on Twitter!



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