4 common cover letter mistakes you should never make again

  • Lauren Booker
  • For the AJC
10:51 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 Business

A cover letter can make or break an applicant's chances of scoring a new job.

Stand out from other candidates by drafting a well written and compelling cover letter, because 53 percent of managers prefer to receive one, according to Forbes magazine.

The first step to winning over a hiring manager is to know what not to include in a cover letter. 

Your cover letter is not the place to spill information about issues you've had in the past, according to Forbes. Don't bring up any problems that happened in the past with a previous job or employer. Instead, let your positive qualities and pertinent experiences shine on the page.

Craft your letter so that it's customized for the receiver. Don't begin the letter with a greeting like "To whom it may concern." Instead, address it to the HR point of contact or the hiring manager, according to CBS News. It's easy to find this information on the application, company website or by calling the business. CBS News even recommends that you leave out the greeting if you don't know to whom you should address the letter. 

Make the letter even more personalized by catering its content to the job you are applying for. Highlight experiences and qualifications that apply to the job description so that the cover letter isn't just a carbon copy of your resume.

Catch the attention of busy hiring managers by keeping your cover letter concise. Stray away from using an excessive amount of adjectives and adverbs. Try to keep your letter clear and not wordy. Also, your cover letter shouldn't read like a storybook where it spans more than half of a page. Instead, provide specifics for information that applies to the role.

A surefire way to help your cover letter land in a trash can is to have grammatical or spelling errors in the copy. Mistakes like these can make an applicant appear to be negligent, according to U.S. News & World Report. Write your cover letter in a word processing system, such as Microsoft Word or Google Drive, for the software to catch any errors. Read your letter aloud or have a friend take a look to ensure that the writing flows well. You can even paste your copy in Grammarly, which is free to use, to triple check it. Going the extra mile during the editing process could help you score extra points with the hiring manager.

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