In fact, many employers are now treating CV accompanying letters as mini job applications in their own right, and savvy job seekers are following suit, creating carefully crafted letters that announce their suitability for the job – and compel employers to hire them.
“Thanks to the high standard and volume of job applications received by employers, I think there’s definitely been a shift in the importance of letters,” says Emma Buxton, director of Buxton Pratt Consulting. “The letter no longer takes a back seat to the resume; employers see the cover letter as an important indicator of whether or not you’ve read the job advertisement, and are genuinely interested in the job you’ve applied for.”
Indeed, according to Buxton, jobseekers have around 30 seconds to impress potential employers with their cover letter – or not. “Cover letter mistakes are costly because they reduce the likelihood that your resume will be read and spoil your chances of gaining a job interview,” she says.
So, if you’re serious about making a first impression that lasts, avoid these common cover letter no-nos:
1. Skipping a cover letter entirely
To prevent unnecessary disappointment, always include a letter with your job application, unless the application instructions specifically request you don’t.
2. Opening with an offensive salutation
In order to use the most appropriate salutation, you need to discover exactly who to address your cover letter to – and that means doing your homework. Once you’ve determined the contact person’s name, you’ll be able to work out whether to address them as Mr, Mrs, or Ms. If in doubt, always use a gender-neutral salutation.
3. Ignoring grammar and spelling mistakes
Sometimes it’s hard to know what changes to make to a letter when you’ve been working hard on it. Before you send your letter to a potential employer use the spell-check feature available with most word processing software; then ask a friend to have a look at it with fresh eyes and to suggest improvements.
4. Leaving out the job title or job reference
When a potential employer reads your CV accompanying letter, they want to know what job you’ve applied for. Failing to quote the job title or job reference in your letter suggests an inability to follow instructions, and can often result in your application not being processed.
5. Addressing the wrong person or company
Even first-class job-seeking letters can end up in the rejection pile if they never reach the right recipient. So, before you post or email your job application, always set a little extra time aside to check the contact details on your cover letter against those provided in the job ad.
More great cover letter and resume advice herein
Advice and Research CentreMyCareer’s