Writing the perfect cover letter is not without its pitfalls. What are the traps to avoid, and what should you leave off your cover letter? You do not want to put the time and energy into creating a cover letter that will be pushed aside on the recruiter’s desk or deleted from their inbox due to simple errors.
Never state your lack of skills for the position. The purpose of the cover letter is to attract your potential employer and showcase your suitability for the role. Stating that you do not possess required essential skills is very off putting. Instead focus on the competencies and capabilities that you do have in relation to the vacancy.
Do not make the mistake of using a previous cover letter template addressed to another company and forgetting to go through the letter to remove all reference to the other company. A recruiter does not want to read a letter that is clearly not an original letter directed to them – to send such a letter indicates sloppiness and a lack of real interest in the advertised role.
Do not provide false information or lie about your experience. You will no doubt be found out at some stage, which will cast a slur upon your character and honesty. Keep your letter factual and details about your experience accurate, precise and genuine.
It is not pertinent to discuss the reasons why you left your previous job in your cover letter, and most certainly not appropriate to give the impression that your last employer was incompetent in any way. This only serves to show prospective recruiters that you may not be respectful towards employers and may in time turn on them in the same manner. Remove any negativity from your cover letter.
Ensure that your letter is not all about you and your skills. Of course this is important, but what the recruiter really wants to know is how your skills fit their requirements. Do not turn your cover letter into a list of your qualifications and abilities; instead write the cover letter in a manner that matches your skill level with the requirements of the role, drawing on past experiences to illustrate this.
Make certain that your cover letter is not too personal. The cover letter is a tool for demonstrating your professional appropriateness for the role. Your potential employer does not need or want to know that your wife has left you and the dog has been run over. Your letter should allow your personality to shine but should not list your personal problems and issues.
Avoid using cliches and run of the mill statements. Your letter must show that you are unique and original and will be an asset to the prospective employer. The recruiter does not want to a read yet another carbon copy letter that does not show your point of difference.
Finally, ensure that you do not convey arrogance. It is certainly appropriate to be confident whilst outlining your qualities but be careful you do not try to oversell yourself. Your potential new employer is not looking for a loud mouth with a boastful and insolent attitude, they are looking for a person well qualified to perform the role.