What do you need to know about cover letters? As a follow-up to my last post, this post provides cover letter tip #2. It’s the second in a planned short series. (Look at cover letter tip #1 to see what you’ve missed!)
What are Some of the Worst Mistakes You can Make with a Cover Letter?
You can go wrong in many ways. For instance, in the worst-case scenario, you could end up with a cover letter NO ONE WANTS TO READ if you commit one or more of these mistakes:
- Generic or I-centered opening
- Boilerplate effect
- Wordy, rambling content
- Resume repetition/redundancy
- Generic closing
- No call to action or statement of intent
Why Does a Bad Cover Letter Happen?
I believe there are at least two common causes of a “bad” cover letter: (1) providing too much information and (2) failure to focus on “why you should talk to me.”
When you take too long to get to the point or overwhelm employers with details, you put yourself at a big disadvantage. You must catch their attention quickly and compellingly, or you might not catch it at all.
How Can You Avoid Creating a Bad Cover Letter? Here’s cover letter tip #2:
Remember that your target reader is a busy hiring manager or executive who might have the attention span of a two-year-old child!
In other words, he/she won’t spend as much as a full minute on the first glance at your resume. Because it’s a time-sensitive issue, you need to move quickly and purposefully toward your goal—making a positive, value-rich impression.
Critical Points to Keep in Mind
Although I could mention many points, I believe your cover letter needs to include at least the following elements:
- Reinforcement, not repetition, of the resume
- Call to action or statement of intent
For example, a few short paragraphs should suffice. You don’t need or want to submit a “novel.” Moreover, if you do an information-dump, busy employers won’t read it. As a result, they’ll move on to the next candidate. End of story.
Don’t let that sad fate describe YOUR story! Take action to ensure that your cover letter attracts and holds employer interest. Your letter gets one shot at that goal, if you aim right to begin with.
P.S. Cover Letter Tip #3 (and maybe more) will appear in a future blog post. In the meantime, if you need help, call (508-263-9454) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)