Saturday, November 18, 2017
Business

Cover letter mistakes you should avoid

RECOMMENDED READING


Your cover letter is like a handshake — it's how you introduce yourself to employers when applying for a job. Like a good handshake, you want your cover letter to be strong, succinct and make a great first impression.

This isn't a part of the job application process you want to skimp on, either. A cover letter lets you go into more detail than your resume allows, explain gaps in your employment history or your need for a career change and make a case as to why you'd be a great fit for the position. And a great cover letter can open the door to scoring an interview and, ultimately, landing a job.

Make sure your first impression is a good and lasting one by avoiding these common mistakes when writing a cover letter.

Overusing 'I'

This isn't your autobiography. The focus should be on how you meet an employer's needs, not on your life story. Avoid the perception of being self-centered by minimizing your use of the word "I," especially at the beginning of sentences.

Using a weak opening

When writing a cover letter, job seekers frequently struggle with the opening. This difficulty often results in a feeble introduction lacking punch and failing to grab the reader's interest. Consider this example:

Weak: Please consider me for your sales representative opening.

Better: Your need for a top-performing sales representative is an excellent match to my three-year history as a top-ranked, multimillion-dollar producer.

Omitting top selling points

A cover letter is a sales letter that sells you as a candidate. Like your resume, it should be compelling and give the main reasons you should be called for an interview. Winning tips include emphasizing your top accomplishments or creating subheadings culled from the job posting. For example:

Ad specifies: Communication skills

I offer: Five years of public speaking experience and an extensive background in executive-level report.

Ad specifies: The need for a strong computer background

I offer: Proficiency in all MS Office applications with additional expertise in website development and design.

Making it too long

If your cover letter exceeds one page, you may be putting readers to sleep. A great cover letter is concise but compelling, and respects the reader's time.

Repeating your resume word for word

Your cover letter shouldn't regurgitate what's on your resume. Reword your cover letter statements to avoid dulling your resume's impact. Consider using the letter to tell a brief story, such as "my toughest sale" or "my biggest technical challenge."

Being vague

If you're replying to an advertised opening — as opposed to writing a cold cover letter — reference the specific job title in your cover letter. The person reading your letter may be reviewing hundreds of letters for dozens of jobs. Make sure all of the content in your letter supports how you'll meet the employer's specific needs.

Forgetting to customize

If you're applying to a number of similar positions, chances are you're tweaking one letter and using it for multiple openings. That's fine, as long as you customize each letter. Don't forget to update the company, job and contact information — if Mr. Jones is addressed as Ms. Smith, he won't be impressed.

Ending on a passive note

When possible, put your future in your own hands with a promise to follow up. Instead of asking readers to call you, try this: I will follow up with you in a few days to answer any preliminary questions you may have. In the meantime, you may reach me at (555) 555-5555.

Being rude

Your cover letter should thank the reader for their time and consideration.

Forgetting to sign the letter

It's proper business etiquette (and shows attention to detail) to sign your letter. However, if you're sending an email cover letter and resume, a signature isn't necessary.

© 2016 — Monster Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. You may not copy, reproduce or distribute this article without the prior written permission of Monster Worldwide. This article first appeared on Monster.com. To see other career-related articles, visit career-advice.monster.com. For recruitment articles, visit hiring.monster.com/hr/hr-best-practices.aspx.

Comments

Parents, children welcome downsized MOSI in Tampa

TAMPA — Avery, 6, slid his sneakers up the side of 200-pound rubber tire from the space shuttle Columbia and sat on top.His father, Ilder Jeannot, called for him to get off of it — usually climbing on museum displays is frowned upon. But in the new M...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

Florida jobs recover from Irma, unemployment rate drops

As economists predicted, the tough hit that Florida jobs took from Hurricane Irma was not long-lived. The state added 125,300 jobs in October, almost breaking even from the 127,400 jobs it lost in September. According to state figures released Friday...
Published: 11/17/17
Apple will postpone release of  HomePod

Apple will postpone release of HomePod

The Washington PostApple said Friday that it’s pushing back its plans for a Siri-powered smart speaker until sometime early next year.The HomePod speaker was announced in June, with an initial launch date set for December. Apple said that its smart s...
Published: 11/17/17
HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

HSN, Good Housekeeping pick five contest finalists

ST. PETERSBURG — Good Housekeeping and St. Petersburg-based HSN have chosen five finalists for their entrepreneur competition. The partners are searching for a novel item to promote as endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Seal, denoting reliability and ...
Published: 11/17/17
Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? Disconnected we falter but there’s a plan to fix that

How are we doing?That was the Big Question posed more than once this past week in Tampa Bay. First, the Tampa Bay Partnership and USF debuted in-depth and new ways to measure Tampa Bay across a wide range of indicators to gauge whether we are gaining...
Published: 11/17/17
Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

Tesla’s latest creation: An electric big rig that can travel 500 miles on a single charge

The main course was expected: a pair of sleek silver Tesla semi-trucks that get 500 miles per charge, go from zero to 60 mph in five seconds and — if the hype is to be believed — promise to single-handedly transform the commercial trucking industry.B...
Published: 11/17/17
We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

We ask Tampa Bay startup leaders how best to advance entrepreneurial ecosystem

What one thing could be added to the Tampa Bay startup community to help it grow and prosper?The Tampa Bay Times reached out to these leading area entrepreneurs and startup experts for answers.RELATED COVERAGE: Trigaux: State of Tampa Bay startups? D...
Published: 11/17/17
Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Before you hit the mall: here are some key holiday shopping hours

Plotting a shopping strategy for the holiday weekend? Here’s a look at holiday store opening hours for some major retailers:Thanksgiving8 a.m.: Kmart1 p.m.: JCPenney4 p.m.: GameStop5 p.m.: Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys "R" Us, Kohl’s6 p.m.: Old Navy, Target...
Published: 11/17/17
Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

Electric, autonomous vehicles featured at Tampa auto show

TAMPA — The two biggest trends in the automotive space are ones you’ve likely heard of: electric vehicles and autonomous cars. Both will feature prominently at the Tampa Bay International Auto Show today through Sunday. The event at the ...
Published: 11/17/17
Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

Developer changes approach as downtown Largo project lags in financing

LARGO — Driving down West Bay Drive, you may notice some changes to downtown Largo.A new 29-unit apartment complex on Ridge Road stands finished and ready for residents. South of the complex, land that was formerly home to a community of rundown cott...
Published: 11/17/17