Updated by Hays UAE, April 2016
Here, Philip Charsley, Director of Hays UK has put together the mistakes so commonly made in cover letters:
When applying for a job directly with an employer, the cover letter is your opportunity to make a great first impression, whilst showcasing relevant skills and experience.
It’s a crucial part of any direct job application, so try to avoid making one of these common mistakes.
1. Droning on
83 per cent of employers report that the average length of time they spend reading a cover letter is under a minute. So, keep it short and snappy. Furthermore, don’t try and be too quirky, and avoid clichés. Such things are distractions for employers who have a primary interest in extracting concrete facts.
Structure your cover letter in a way that helps the employer find what they are looking for, quickly. For instance, the first thing they will be interested in is where you worked last, so make sure that you address this in your first paragraph.
In essence, use your cover letter to tell the employer exactly what they want to know in a short and concise way.
2. Cutting corners
It’s not hard to tell when someone has edited a few words of a cover letter that they use for bulk applications. This tactic implies to the employer that you haven’t fully read the job description and do not have a real interest in the role. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes – if you put this little effort into your job application, how much effort are you realistically going to put in when you are in the role?
Instead, use your cover letter to highlight your genuine interest and understanding of the role and provide a clear insight into how you would make a positive contribution and add value.
3. Overlooking the finer points
It’s the little touches that will help you stand out from other candidates. For instance, if you can, find out the recipient’s name, and address the letter to them personally. This may not always be possible, but going the extra mile here will demonstrate your genuine interest in the position.
I also recommend other personal touches such as signing off your cover letter with your signature and confirming your availability towards the end of the letter – despite this being of vital information to the employer, it is often something that candidates neglect to mention.
Lastly, send your cover letter in PDF format. Don’t risk sending over a type of document that the employer may struggle to open. You want your cover letter to be a pleasure to read, not a chore.
A final thought
A well-crafted, concise and personal cover letter can make all the difference when applying for a new position. CVs often lack personality and context, so use the cover letter as your opportunity to add depth and dimension to the sort of candidate that you are.
Good luck with your cover letter! For more inspiration, visit our career blog page here or click on the links below.