Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Common Cover Letter Mistakes

Companies must read thousands of resumes from job seekers. In the end all will be mixed into one.

Job seekers should try to be able to attract recruiters, so it's very important to introduce themselves through the effective cover letter.

Of course, a summary of the list of all his achievements, but one can not resume the capture of his personality, passion or desire for a particular job. A letter is the place to prospective employers that a person knows what they have done, what we can offer and how to express yourself. And there is an added advantage: You can write in complete sentences instead of fragments or points.

Many job seekers spend hours crafting each item on their resume. Then they whip out a quick-and-dirty cover letter full of mistakes -- not realizing that a cover letter is just as important as a resume.

One common cover letter goof: Typos and spelling errors. To avoid spelling errors and typos, write your cover letter using a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word. Next, spell-check the document. Then read the document out loud -- you may catch spelling errors the computer missed (such as accidentally writing "jog" instead of "job").

Only after you have double-checked your cover letter should you attach it to your resume and send it off.

Here are some other all-too-common cover letter blunders and how to fix them.

Name That Job

What's one of the first things you should do after greeting the reader of a cover letter?

State exactly which job you're applying for. Include the exact name of the position. If the ad provided a job ID number, then include that too. It's also a good idea to mention where you heard about the opening.

There's a good reason for being so specific: Many recruiters handle hundreds of job openings, so they won't automatically know which one you're gunning for. By reminding them of the specific opening for which you're applying, you'll make it more likely that your resume will be read by the right person. And besides, anything you can do to make a recruiter's job easier will put you on their good side.

The Danger of Form Cover Letters

Do you send the exact same cover letter to every employer, only changing the name of the person to whom you're sending it?

Big mistake.

The point of a cover letter is to make a personal connection with the reader. So to write a successful cover letter, you should tailor it specifically to each company you send it to. For instance, display a knowledge of the company history or write about recent events or projects the company has undertaken. This will show that you have taken the time to research the company before sending in your resume -- and prove that you really want the job.

Don't Repeat Yourself

A common trap that many job seekers fall into when writing a cover letter is to simply regurgitate everything that's in their resume.

But if it's already in your resume, then you're just wasting your breath ... and a chance at the job.

A cover letter should not be a rehash of your resume; instead, it should offer deeper insights into what your resume does NOT say. Provide an in-depth explanation of some of your key achievements at your last job, for instance, and how those accomplishments could help the company. Or tell a story about a tough problem you solved. The point is: The recruiter already has your resume; the cover letter should add to it, not repeat it.

So when writing a cover letter, make sure it elaborates on what's already in your resume or provides some new information.

What Can You Do for Me?

When writing a cover letter, many people discuss why they need the job…

"I need the money."

"I find the position interesting."

"I've wanted to work for you since I was a kid."

"I need more experience in the industry."

"Since your company is the best in the industry, a job there would help my career."

Here's a newsflash: Companies don't really care about your needs. They're not hiring you to enrich your life or provide you with an income. They're hiring you because they need a job done.

That means your cover letter should focus on the company's needs and how you can fulfill them, not what the company can do for you.

A good way to start: Look at the requirements for the position in the job ad. Then, in your cover letter, discuss point by point how you meet (or even exceed) those requirements. By using the job ad as a guide, you'll show the company how hiring you benefits them and not just you.

One last note: Try to be both confident and humble when discussing what you can offer the company. While you certainly want to appear competent, arrogance can turn off a recruiter. Show enthusiasm and keep a positive attitude, and your cover letter will take you far.

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