What is a cover letter?
A motivation letter is a written document commonly submitted with a job application explaining the candidate’s references and his interest in the open position. Since a cover letter is often one of only two documents sent to a potential employer, a well or poorly written letter (or email) can affect whether the applicant will be called for an interview .
Understanding cover letters
A good cover letter complements a resume by developing the curriculum vitae relevant to the job and, in essence, makes a sales pitch to explain why the candidate is the best person for the job. Career experts advise job seekers to spend time personalizing each cover letter for the particular job, rather than using a generic missive. While this requires extra effort, it can be very useful in helping a candidate stand out from the competition.
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Common mistakes in the cover letter
A perfect CV is often sabotaged by a badly thought-out or error-filled cover letter. Whether you include the letter according to the required submission guidelines, or just want to emphasize your interest in the work, be sure to avoid making these seven mistakes.
1. Obtaining wrong names
Although you are probably applying for a number of different jobs in your search, you obviously don’t want to share this information with hiring managers; you want them to think their position is this. But nothing screams “form letter” than having the wrong name or the wrong position on the cover letter, probably because you forgot to change it since the last job you applied for. This carelessness isn’t just sloppy – it’s probably the safest way to avoid getting an interview.
2. Updating your CV
The purpose of the cover letter is to identify your skills and explain how your previous experience is applicable to the desired position. Simply rephrasing all the facts on your resume, without going into an explanation of why your expertise and background are relevant, defeats the purpose and, in fact, makes it redundant. The cover letter should be based on the information presented on the CV, not just summarize it.
3. Unreasonable length
Keep your letter tight. While you may have a lot of useful information to offer, keep in mind that recruiters will often go through hundreds of applications. They just don’t have time to read a three-page missive, even if you think all the information is important. The absolute maximum length of a cover letter, including headers, must be one page. As a rule, it should be shorter.
4. Adding unnecessary information
A tip to keep the letter short. Focus on your qualifications relevant to the role. If you are applying for an accounting position, the fact that you have graphic design skills should not be a main focal point.
It’s also best to leave out positive but personal things like your IQ – although no doubt important for any role, adding information like this to your cover letter is just plain weird. And accomplishments, interests, and recreational hobbies are rarely worth mentioning, unless they are related in some way to work or business. If you are applying to a sporting goods manufacturer, for example, saying that you are passionate about golf can add an interesting personal touch.
5. Identify weaknesses
Talking about your shortcomings is not only a waste of complete space but also counterproductive. While “What are your biggest weaknesses?” is a routine maintenance question, there is no reason to ask them in advance. Your cover letter is to identify the strengths that make you so good for the role.
6. Seeming arrogant
Although you are deceiving yourself, try to make sure that your cover letter does not describe you as arrogant. Excessive use of the words “I”, “me” or “my” can make you seem conceited (not to mention having a limited vocabulary and poor writing skills). Yes, the cover letter ultimately relates to you and your accomplishments, but you need to find a way to say “I’m the best” without really saying it.
7. Spelling and grammar errors
Typos and grammatical errors are a key issue, signaling that you didn’t even bother to proofread your own letter. And no, you can’t rely on your computer’s spell and grammar checks – because it won’t catch words spelled correctly, but misused (like “it’s” and “its”). Also unprofessional: typographical inconsistencies, such as passing a dash with “-” in one place and “-” in another. This lack of attention to detail is frowned upon, whatever your field.
Key points to remember
- A motivation letter is a written document commonly submitted with a job application explaining the candidate’s references and his interest in the open position.
- A good cover letter completes the CV and explains why the candidate in question is the ideal person for the job.
- A poor cover letter can sink a job seeker and many common mistakes appear in cover letters received by companies for their job offers.
How To Write a Great Cover Letter
Your cover letter provides information to a potential employer about who you are professionally. This includes your professional interests, your professional goals, your knowledge and skills acquired over the years, your career goals and achievements. The cover letter should be a one-page document that provides clear and concise details of why you want the job. To create a great cover letter that will grab the reader’s attention, be sure to follow the rules below.
1. Personalize the letter for each role
For each role to which you are applying, whether within the same company or with different companies, personalize your letter to the advertised role. Your cover letter does not have to be generic. Not only include your strengths and skills, but also explain why you are the ideal candidate for the job. This means that for each position you apply for, you must write a new cover letter.
The company wants to believe that you took the time to read and understand the role. It can be tedious and time consuming to write several letters, but it will be worth it.
2. Include contact information
Make sure your cover letter has the name of the person hiring a candidate for the job. It can be a department head or the HR manager. In any case, make sure you have information about who is responsible for recruiting by visiting the company website or by calling. This way you can open the letter with an appropriate greeting.
Also be sure to include your contact information on your cover letter, even if it is already on your CV.
3. Use simple words
You want to clearly communicate your value and why you should be considered for the position you are applying for. Using complex words and phrases would most certainly fail to convey your intentions to the business. If the manager or the human resources representative who reads the letter cannot decipher your “dirty” words, he will probably not take care of the rest of your request.
4. Quantify achievements
Remember that the cover letter should not rework your CV, but rather provide more information on the areas of your CV that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
For these areas, be sure to quantify your achievements. For example, even if your CV may indicate that you have used a marketing analysis tool to encourage more clients to sign up for your employer’s services, a cover letter will explain this, adding that your strategy has generated 200 additional clients per month and increased revenue by $ 10,000. In this way, you can stand out from the other candidates with vague achievements.
After writing the letter, review it several times to make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. Also, ask someone you trust to also read it again and recommend any areas that should be added or excluded from the letter.