Career Advice for Job Seekers

[Infographic] 5 biggest cover letter mistakes you can make

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January 28, 2011

Infographic of 5 biggest cover letter mistakes you can make
These are the 5 most common cover letter mistakes I’ve seen

1. Using what someone else has written for yourself. Cover letter sin number one is not only plagiarism but it’s just bad practice. It certainly won’t get you very far either because no two job seekers are alike. Your experience, expertise, and credentials are completely different than job seeker Joe over there and your cover letter better be too if you want that job! Create something unique that reflects YOU, not someone else.

2. General cover letters work best. Nope, wrong again. Customize your cover letter to the position you are applying to. This includes incorporating the hiring manager’s name, contact info, and position title. It also includes writing in the title of the position, where you heard about it, and making the content of your cover letter EXTREMELY relevant to the position description.

3. Copying your resume into your cover letter. This is by far the most common mistake I’ve seen. Give me something juicy in the cover letter, something that entices me to read your resume but doesn’t just repeat what I’m going to read on your resume. I want – to want – to read your resume, make your cover letter make me want to read your resume.

4. Using BORING and OVERUSED openers. Blah! I’m so tired of “In response to your ad for XYZ position with XYZ Inc.” That is not original or creative. I want an employee that is creative, original, and dynamic. Show me that in your cover letter, captivate me in that first sentence. Remember job searches are based on exclusion not inclusion. Hiring managers are looking for a reason to toss your resume and you have to fight to be at the top. Instead, try something bold like: “Your Sales Management advertisement addresses my qualifications so ideally, one would think we’ve met. And we should – because I can offer you precisely the experience for which you have been searching.”
Matching doesn’t matter. Ooooh myth number

5. All I have to say is your cover letter better match your resume; in font, font size, format, layout, design, etc. While the content of your cover letter should be different than your resume, your cover letter design should definitely match your resume design. This shows organization, attention-to-detail, and that extra effort that goes much further than you would believe.

About the author: Jessica Holbrook is a former Executive Hiring Manager for Fortune 500 companies and President/CEO of Great Resumes Fast. She creates powerful, customized, and targeted resumes that are guaranteed to get her clients interviews. 

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