During your job search, how many times have you replied to a job posting by applying via e-mail?
If you’ve been job searching for a while… that number could be in the hundreds. Which means that you have most likely made hundreds of cover letter mistakes that may have cost you a good first impression.
Here are some of the worst, and most common, mistakes we’ve seen:
Attaching the Cover Letter to the E-mail
What’s wrong with that, you ask? Simple: most hiring managers aren’t going to open the cover letter attachment. Instead, they’ll go straight to the resume. Want to ensure your cover letter gets read? Copy and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Whoever received the e-mail will be much more likely to read if it’s already right there in front of their face.
Writing Your Whole Life Story in the Body of the E-mail
Don’t go overboard with details; keep it short. The hiring manager won’t be willing to invest a lot of time reading your e-mail. Keep it short and to the point.
Providing Information That Is Not Relevant to the Position
When I want to bring an additional resume/cover letter writer on staff, I want a writer who has extensive expertise and certification in resume writing. If someone goes on and on in their cover letter about all their other writing experience, they will lose my interest. Instead, I want them to tell me about their most relevant experience as it relates to my needs. This example shows that you want to give the hiring manager a brief overview of the most relevant experience you have, appropriate to the position they are trying to fill.
Excluding Information They’ve Specifically Asked You to Include
Depending on the position, the employer may ask you to submit a sample of your work, portfolio, hours of availability, or even salary requirements. The answers must be in your cover letter! If not, you will most certainly be removed from consideration for failing to follow instructions. I tell you this from experience… because 9 out of 10 applicants will fail to address every stipulation the employer has listed.
Not Using a Cover Letter at All
We’ve received e-mails from applicants, and the body of the e-mail provides either little or no information whatsoever. Some simply state, “Here is my resume for your review.” You are selling yourself short by not including at least a brief introduction. Especially if the employer outlines specific requirements. Take the time to write, “I see you need someone with availability to work nights and weekends; I would enjoy working these hours and am available to do so.” Or, “I have included a sample of my work for your consideration along with my resume. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”
Forgetting to Tell Them Why You’re the Best Fit
Let me tell you about one of THE BEST cover letters I’ve ever seen: I could tell this person put effort into it—and she took the time to specifically and meticulously review our job requirements. She scrutinized our requirements and detailed in her cover letter how she had experience meeting those needs. It was applicable, relevant, and attention getting. It was probably one of the only cover letters that actually made us want to read the corresponding resume.
Using a Boring Closing Statement
Instead of using the same old boring line, spice it up a bit. One of the more daring cover letter closings I have read closed with, “Call today, don’t delay.” I applauded her boldness and had to call her. The closing was confident, feisty, and it certainly grabbed my attention. Not to mention the entire cover letter addressed everything she brought to the table as a potential employee and how these elements were relevant to meeting our needs. Boring the hiring manager with details not relevant to the opening—or not making the most of the space and time you’re getting is really to your detriment.
Now… go take a look at the last few email applications you sent. How many of these mistakes did you make?
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Great Resumes Fast!
About the Author: A nationally recognized resume expert, Jessica Hernandez is President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast and a former human resources manager and recruiter. With more than ten years’ experience directing hiring practices for Fortune 500 companies, she has developed innovative and proven resume development, and personal branding strategies to generate powerful results for clients.
As a global resume authority and trusted media source, Jessica has been featured and quoted on CNN.com, Monster.com, Job Talk America radio, SmartBrief, International Business Times, and more. Jessica has her Bachelor of Science degree in Communications/Public Relations from the University of North Florida. Contact Jessica on Twitter!