IT Employment

Avoid these three common cover letter mistakes

To get the best results from a cover letter, put yourself in the place of a hiring manager and offer information that is interesting and relevant.

Generally, all resume and cover letter mistakes arise from the fact that job seekers don't put themselves in the shoes of the person hiring for a job. The best way to create a good cover letter is to imagine what kind of information you'd like to see if you were the one sifting through a bunch of job applications.

I won't talk about the obvious things to avoid, like typos or grammatical errors. Everyone should know by now that a sloppy resume or cover letter will not reflect well on you. These are more things people automatically do without thinking when composing their cover letters:

Not mentioning the specific job you're applying for

"I would like to apply for the position for which you advertised..." Yes, that actually happens. If someone is filling several positions, he or she is probably not going to take the time to browse through your resume to figure out which position you're referring to in the cover letter.

Using a form letter

If you think you can use the same spiel to introduce yourself to every company you apply to, you're missing out. Your cover letter should mention specific aspects or attributes of the company and why you think you would be a good fit for it.

Repeating the information in your resume

The cover letter is actually the place where you want to let some of your personality show through. The hiring manager has your credentials in your resume. The cover letter is the place to show where your accomplishments will translate to the job being offered.

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About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

2 comments
ps.techrep
ps.techrep

If you studiously avoid every mistake that HR professionals claim can hurt your being considered for a position, including not repeating information in your resume, there's vry little content left. It begs the question: "What is a cover letters' purpose?" The original function of a business cover letter was as a transmittal letter that authenticated the sender and enumerated attached documents. When documents are transmitted via email with a certificate (all business email SHOULD have a security certificate), the mail message automatically identifies the sender and all attachments. So what can you include in a cover letter? Limit its content to simply identifying the position to which you are applying and identifying any references. If you've been referred by someone, say so. Introducing yourself is useless; you have no personal credibility unless the recipient knows you or a referrer. Saying that you are interested in the position, stating that the experience in your previous positions as "x" closely match the jobs, saying that you'd like an interview? Why else would you be sending your information? This is a redundant and a waste of time for both the recipient and you. Put your effort into making your resume as good as it can be, streamline the cover letter. If the hiring manager is too busy to look your resume, he'll be too busy to properly manage you as an employee.

wchaster
wchaster

I have recently been told that the function of the cover letter has evovled into a sales pitch, with you and the product. You in essence need to be part copy write to be able to effectively market yourself and urge the reader to look at your resume

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