10 things to avoid when writing a cover letter

10 things to avoid when writing a cover letter

The job market is extremely competitive and one of the things that can give you an edge is how you write your cover letter.

According to CNBC, a cover letter gives you the opportunity to exhibit your writing skills.

Linda Spencer, the associate director and coordinator of career advising at the Harvard extension school, also notes that a cover letter should answer two questions:

1. Why are you fit for the job? and

2. What value are you adding?

”It takes the average employer about seven seconds to review these documents,” she says adding that: ”They’re not reading, they’re skimming, so you need to make it clear right off the bat how you can add value.”

Here are ten things to avoid when writing a cover letter:

1. ‘To whom it may concern’

When writing a cover letter, address it to a specific person, either the hiring manager or department head. Find their official name, title and position in the organization.

LinkedIn is a very resourceful website that can provide such information. Using words such as ‘To whom it may concern’ will have your cover letter rejected in the preliminary stages of the selection.

2. Too much pomp

Go straight to the point, don’t use too much pomp in your writing, in fact just be blunt. Tell your reader what position your seeking and how yo came to learn of the job opportunity.

3. Rehashing entire resume

The cover letter is just a way to explain why you would want a job.

It is therefore not necessary to make it too lengthy, a situation that can lead to unnecessary repetition of ideas and thoughts.

Career experts also advice loosening the noose in terms of formal writing. They encourage applicants to add their own voice in expressing their interest in the job.

4. Overusing ‘I’

According to career experts, one does not have to use words such as ”fast thinker” and ”highly creative” to show their prowess in language.

To demonstrate leadership skills for example, you can use: accomplished, contracted assigned and headed.

To demonstrate communication skills, you can use the words addressed, translated, negotiated and edited.

If an applicant you want to demonstrate research skills, words such as constructed, critique, examined can be used.

For creative skills, use words such as revitalized, developed and integrated.

5. Not thanking the reader

As you close the letter, it is important to reiterate your interest in the position you’re applying for.

Thank the reader (s) for their consideration and state that you would be looking forward to their response.

It is also important to put your signature at the end of the letter.

6. Inconsistent format 

Maintain the length of the letter to one page. Make sure that across that page, there is a semblance of uniformity in the size and font of the content in your cover letter.

It gives the letter a good outlook portraying you as an organized person  and thus increasing your chances of getting the job being offered.

7. Grammatical errors

Ashira Prossack tells Forbes that after making final edits, you should reread your cover letter again from top to bottom to ensure that there are no typing or grammatical errors.

Read it out aloud in order to determine whether the letter has a logical flow. Reading aloud also ensures that you go through the story word for word rather skimming through it as one would if it was only about reading.

8. Plain explanations

In you letter, it is not easy to pick out your strengths if you explain them plainly. For example, if you said, ”I increased sales,” that would not be easy to pick out.

Instead if you said ‘I increased sales by 30percent’ the human eye will quickly move to this figure as it shows plainly among the field of letters in your cover letter.

9. Irrelevant experiences 

Ashira Prossack advises that as you apply for a job, it is good to highlight experiences that are related to that job first.

Think about your responsibilities in your current job that are most applicable for the new job you are applying to. This gives your reader an easy time in assessing your suitability for the job.

10. Lack of human aspect

Put a human aspect to your letter. Most of the details have been strictly professional; it is therefore good to break it off with a light touch.

Giving a short description about your life apart from work experience and qualifications makes good reading for the recipient of your letter.

Additional report from Forbes and CNBC 

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Story By Duncan Mutwiri
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