Cover letters are a huge pain to write. No one likes writing them and hiring managers don’t spend much time reading them (ESPECIALLY if they’re badly written.)
Cover letters are supposed to serve as a sales pitch; you’re explaining why you’re the best candidate for the job. But chances are if you’re treating your job search like a job itself, you really don’t have the time or patience to customize a cover letter for the literal hundreds of applications you’re sending out.
This mentality of quantity over quality is a double-edged sword in the job-searching realm. Obviously, the more applications you submit, the greater your chances of getting interviewed.
But on the other hand, if you’re submitting the same application with a poorly written cover letter to EVERY opening you find, you’re sabotaging your chances of getting interviews.
How can a cover letter potentially kill your chances of even getting an interview?
1. Wrong date
If you’re using a cover letter format similar to a traditional letter in that the date is on the top, be sure you get the date right. To some recruiters or hiring managers, this little detail will make or break your cover letter.
Being off by a day or two isn’t the end of the world but if a detail-oriented person is reviewing your application, that’s the end of the road for you. Being off by weeks, months, or even years is just flat-out inexcusable.
2. Addressing the wrong person
Referring to the reader as Hiring Manager, Recruitment team, or playing it safe with just “To Whom It May Concern” is totally fine. You may not know who will contact you for the interview so keeping your salutation a bit vague is acceptable. But if you don’t know for sure who will eventually read the letter, don’t put a specific name down.
Say you’re using an old contact name at a company, but that person’s replacement is still getting their emails. That person might think that you’re sending the letter to someone at another company and delete that email in response.
3. Using an obvious template
If you’ve never written a cover letter before, then using templates will be a saving grace. But they’re just templates; they cannot standalone by themselves.
If you can’t be bothered to customize a template by writing why you’re the best fit for the job, why should hiring managers and recruiters be bothered to interview you?
4. Riddled with typos
Please, for the love everything you hold near and dear in the world, PROOFREAD YOUR COVER LETTER BEFORE SENDING IT OUT. This is especially vital if you’re applying for any kind of writing or communication job.
If you can’t or won’t write your own introductory letter with any care or eye for spelling and grammar, why should a hiring manager even bother reading it?
5. Has nothing to do with the job
Take care that you don’t use the cover letter for one job when applying to a completely unrelated second job. If you’re applying for a Financial Analyst job but your cover letter references your graphic design experience, it’s the end
In your haste, zeal, or desperation to find a job, you might end up committing one of these cover letter crimes. I know to some of you it seems like common sense to proofread your application and make sure it’s absolutely flawless before clicking the submit button.
Just be sure you triple check everything and you’re confident that your cover letter is the best reflection of yourself. Literally check yourself before you wreck yourself!