College grads, we owe you a huge congratulations! Now you face a new challenge: the job search. Whether you’re looking for an online job or something that’s more traditional, you’re likely to make crucial cover letter errors a huge congratulations! Now you face a new challenge: the job search. You’re likely to make crucial cover letter errors during the early stages of your search. This can eliminate your chances of making it to the next round. Watch out for these five common mistakes, and you’ll be miles ahead of your peers.
College grads often skip it altogether
Yes, writing a cover letter can be a time-consuming drag. And yes, there’s a chance your employer won’t read it. You must write one anyway, and put your heart into it. Even if your prospective employer doesn’t read it carefully, it will be noticed that you put time and effort into it. This makes you look good. You want that. (Right?)
Focusing on yourself instead of your audience
Yes, you REALLY want this job. And yes, you’re REALLY qualified, based on the required credentials listed in the post (you hold almost all of them). But keep in mind, every other applicant can make the same claims. Show that you care about your employer’s future and your employer’s needs, not just your own. Read the job description carefully and make sure that your cover letter addresses the needs desired.
Sharing all the details of all your past jobs
Your cover letter should not become a long, descriptive litany of every previous job you’ve held. Many college grads believe this information will be interesting and useful to their readers. It won’t be. Your readers want to know that you can do the work at hand. They’re more likely to hire you if they believe you can do it better than any other applicant. Start with that instead.
In the interest of making a sales pitch, novice applicants tend to go over the top with the razzle dazzle. Remember that your prospective employers have been in this business for a long time; something that sounds witty and original to you may come across as tiresome to them. Stick to the point. Make sure every statement is relevant. Keep your letter under one page.
Restating your resume (without adding anything)
Of course, the story you tell in your resume and cover letter should line up. But your cover letter should add life to the list of dry, straightforward facts in your resume. If it doesn’t, you may be missing an important opportunity to shine.
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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