Career Resources - Cover Letters
Common Cover Letter Errors
This article is excerpted from the Vault Guide to Resumes, Cover Letters & Interviews, one of more than 100 career guides on Rljobs.com available from Vault, Inc.
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Although companies consistently demand applicants to submit cover letters along with their resumes, many jobseekers still believe the cover letter to be nothing but a mild formality. Sometimes they don't bother sending a cover letter at all or just send one-paragraph notes, quickly belted out with little thought. Don't make this mistake. Take a look at some common cover letter errors.
Too short is too bad
Many people send short throwaway notes in place of real cover letters. A cover letter should have three to four paragraphs, with the longest one being the middle one or two, and the shortest one being the summation paragraph. The idea is to make the document brief and easily readable while still demonstrating a professional, thoughtful manner.
In attempt to let their personality and humor soak through the cotton-bound paper, many applicants try to make their cover letters funny. But these attempts rarely work. You have no way of knowing if your prospective boss shares your sense of humor. Moreover, the cover letter offers a sample of your ability to conduct business-like communications.
Poor Grammar and, Mispelings
No one wants to make grammatical or spelling errors but many applicants nevertheless submit cover letters with small and thoughtless, yet deadly, errors. People have a difficult time seeing the mistakes in their own writing, so ask someone else to proofread the cover letter for you. Spell checks can also insinuate typos, as demonstrated by one cover letter writer who boasted that "Referees are available on request."
Cliches put egg on your face
It goes without saying that the best way to sound unremarkable and insincere is to fill your cover letter with cliches and buzzwords. Even if those buzzwords represent honest information you are trying to relay, remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The best way to express your desires is to say how you really feel. So if you come up with the real McCoy, take a bow, because you're moving in the right direction faster than a speeding bullet.
Pontificating with immoderately labored interpretive phraseologies (That is, writing overdone sentences)
How many times have you seen someone strain to play it cool, only to crash and burn after misusing an impressive-sounding word? In an attempt to sound intelligent, cover letter writers regularly produce sentences that use big, impressive, but unfamiliar words.
No egomaniacs or sycophants
This is an opportunity for you to give employers an idea of who you are, what you've accomplished and how you can contribute to their company. Nobody likes a self-absorbed narcissist, and even fewer people want to work with one. Avoid unqualified, grandiose statements and assumptions about how impressed your reader will be with you.
On the other hand, don't pour on a bunch of flattering statements about potential employers unless you mean them. Chances are, any insincerity will drip through, making you look like a smug little jackass. Still, honesty doesn't mean including everything. Avoid personal negatives ("I just got fired from my job because I refused to work on my birthday") and overblown confessions. If you're interested in a position or company, just say why.
"Cymad's increasing stake in the booming semiconductor market makes this position intriguing indeed."
"I've admired your company's products for some time, especially the Nibok 5000."
"You have the most fabulous company ever and it would be the culmination of my life dream to work with you."
"I would DIE to work at Microdex."