A professional cover letter template is a supplemental part of your job application. It helps the employer to get to know you better and understand how you will contribute to the company’s success. If you’re eager to know more about cover letter examples, what a good cover letter format or sample should look like and what mistakes to avoid, follow this 2-part series on the most common errors, dreaded by the recruiters.
Depending on an organization, some employers will require a cover letter, during your job application process. Hence, having a well-structured and informative document ready, will significantly increase your chances for an interview. It can be particularly helpful if your experience or acquired skills do not seem to fit the job at first glance.
Repeating your resume
It’s important to remember that a cover letter template is a document which supplements and completes your resume. It doesn’t serve as a written copy of your resume, for example. Your goal is to present and explain how you gained your specific skills and how you will bring value to the company. You can think of it as a space for your personal branding.
As an example: the role you’re applying for requires the candidate to be a team player. You should list collaborator or team player, as one of your skills for your resume. In your cover letter example, you present how you learned this skill and/or in what context you were able to use it. This could be a project that you delivered successfully as part of a team.
Cover letter tailored to the specific job
There’s nothing wrong in drafting a master document which you can use as a cover letter template. What’s important to remember is, that such a master document has to be treated only as a basis for an actual one you send out, for a specific position.
You can even draft a general structure of your cover letter format. Prepare it in an appropriate format, specify the paragraphs and prepare your introductory statement. For example, think of your unique knowledge, expertise and skills, that can bring value to a company.
However, when you create the actual cover letter sample, make sure you include only those aspects that are valuable for the specific job and company. If a job you’re applying for requires analytical skills, focus on describing these, instead of your ability to influence. If project management is one of the main responsibilities in the role, focus on describing a project you successfully delivered, rather than mentioning a report you created.
It’s understandable that you want to present yourself in the best light. However, remember that every recruiter has limited time to review your application. Outlining skills that are critical for the job will bring you one step closer to landing that interview.
Wrong company and/or wrong position
You’re applying to the ABC Company, yet your cover letter sample addresses to the XYZ Company… Even though it seems unbelievable, incorrect job details is a common mistake. It usually happens when you forget to amend it to the specific role you’re applying for and use the last version of the document.
As already stressed, it’s especially important to tailor your cover letter examples, to the specific jobs you’re applying for. Imagine a recruiter from ABC receiving one addressed to XYZ. If you’re lucky, they will turn a blind eye on it. In most cases, though, a recruiter will consider such mistake unacceptable and reject you from the selection process on the spot (especially if the job requires an eye for detail).
Cover letter focused on facts
Since recruiters have limited time to review your application documents, it’s important to draft concise and informative cover letter examples. These should focus on the job critical skills and responsibilities. In general, good ones should take ¾ to 1 page in length maximum. Anything longer than that will make the recruiter lose focus, potentially resulting in missing the most important aspects you want to stress.
Always keep in mind that your goal is to spark interest in the recruiter so that they see and understand the added value you will bring to the job. Adding interests on your resume is commonly met, but when it comes to your cover letter, they should definitely be left out.
Typos, incorrect grammar, linguistic errors
Other frequent and quite glaring mistakes are typos and linguistic errors. Since it represents a full-text document, it needs to flow naturally and be easy to follow. Misspelling words or making errors will make your document look sloppy. It may also discourage the hiring team from reviewing it in detail.
Revise your cover letter format, double check your spelling and correct it before you send it out. Whenever not sure and unable to cross check grammatical or linguistic doubts, just skip those altogether and replace them with verbiage you’re comfortable with. It’s better to be understood correctly, than making it an oddly sounding puzzle.
Taking to heart our own advice on not writing a novel, we will finish part one of the article 😊 Stay tuned for the second part where we explain additional five most common cover letter mistakes!