Quoted in FlexJobs: Cover Letter Missteps: 5 Things You Should Never Do

Avoid cover letter missteps by noting these five things you should never do:

1. Never settle for generic.

Don’t send a cover letter just for the sake of including one—make your words count! Consider the cover letter a prime opportunity to sell yourself. The last thing you want to come off as is uninspired or lazy. Use keywords from the job posting to paint a vivid picture of why you’re the perfect candidate for this position, not just any old job. Yes, such individualization takes time, but remember your goal is to land a great new role, not to see how many applications you can complete.

2. Never start your letter with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir.”

On a similar note, realize that the lack of a proper salutation can get your interaction with a prospective employer off on the wrong foot.

“The biggest misstep I find people make is not addressing the cover letter to a real person,” says Marcelle Yeager, president of Career Valet. “It is almost always possible to find the name of a person who works in HR or who would be your potential boss by using LinkedIn or the company website. Personalization is so important in all of your communications, including in a cover letter.”

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Time well spent on your cover letter

The dreaded cover letter – it takes so much time to write them, but do people ever read them? The answer is YES, and sometimes that is the deciding factor between you and another candidate for the perfect job. Here is a story from one of our previous clients along with some tips to help you with your cover letter.

A colleague reached out to our team to assist with a cover letter. She had a generic cover letter and used that as the basis for every job submission; she only changed the heading, company name, and job position – everything else was the same. Every cover letter must be tailored for each job. The letter must exhibit that you know what the company does, that you have skills that relate to the company, and potentially how you think your skills will help the company move forward with its mission. While this is very time consuming, this is what it takes!

- Do your research. Specifically understand where the company is going in the future, see what skills they value most, and then align your skills to that company. Show how you can be a valued addition to the team; this is key for everyone’s cover letter.

- Address the letter to a person or group. Do your research to find who will receive the job application. A personalized letter shows you did your research and you are interested in the company.

- Check your grammar and spelling. Have a friend review it; most times if a potential employer reviews a cover letter that has spelling errors they will drop the candidate then and there.

While cover letters are very time consuming, they are completely worth all of the effort. Now hurry up and go do that research!!