Your cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager will view and will heavily impact how far you make it in the hiring process. If you strike out with your cover letter, the hiring manager is unlikely to read your resume, and you’re probably not getting the job. No matter how much experience you have in the field, making these common cover letter mistakes can cost you.
Being Too Long-Winded
Going overboard on length is perhaps the number one mistake made across the board. If you drone on with a long-winded cover letter, you’re pretty much guaranteed to miss out on job opportunities. So, how long should your cover letter be?
According to a survey from The Balance, here’s what employers are looking for:
- Full page – 12.6 percent of employers
- ½ page – 43.7 percent
- No preference – 19.5 percent
- The shorter the better – 24.1 percent
As you can see, the vast majority of employers prefer cover letters that are fairly short. In most cases, keeping it at or under ½ page is ideal.
Explaining Pointless Details
A cover letter should be viewed as a way to quickly highlight your skills, experience and qualifications. It’s not meant to serve as a tell-all that covers mundane, irrelevant points. Keep this in mind when deciding what to include and what to exclude. Don’t waste a hiring manager’s time discussing extraneous details that don’t directly relate to the job you’re applying for.
Ignoring Formatting Aesthetics
Humans are visual creatures. We naturally prefer to look at things that are pleasing to the eye. So you want to keep aesthetics in mind when formatting your cover letter. For starters, you should use a common font that’s clear and legible (e.g., Arial, Calibri and Times New Roman).
Break up your text so there’s plenty of white space. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three sentences per paragraph. This will prevent your cover letter from appearing cluttered and make it easier for recruiters to scan. It’s also smart to throw in a few bullet points whenever it makes sense.
Sending a Generic Cover Letter
You’re probably not going to create a completely unique cover letter for every single job posting. That’s going to be incredibly time-consuming. But one cardinal sin many candidates make is sending the exact same, generic cover letter every time.
This is problematic because hiring managers can spot this from a mile away. They’ll often perceive you as being lazy, insincere and not truly interested. Do yourself a favor and customize your cover letter to each individual job you apply for, and tweak the details so it fits the specific job description. This can make a world of difference.
Don’t kill your chances by making these cover letter mistakes. Take the time to optimize your cover letter so it’s “just right” and quickly grabs the attention of recruiters.
A good cover letter could be the deciding factor on whether or not you are called for an interview? If you need help with your cover letter, Contact PrideStaff DFW today!