Our last two posts focused on setting up your cover letters for success. This post contains seven things you SHOULD NOT do when writing cover letters:
1. Unnecessary cover letters
Job postings state whether a cover letter is required or if a resume alone is sufficient. If the posting for the job you are applying to does not specify, email the recruiter to ask if they would like a cover letter as part of your application. DO NOT submit a cover letter for jobs that do not require them; this looks unprofessional and demonstrates a lack of attention to detail.
2. Long cover letters
Unlike a resume, which is expected to fill a whole page, a cover letter is usually around three paragraphs in length and always fits on one page. This includes the address at the top and your name and signature at the bottom. Concision matters. Shorter is better than longer; DO NOT write a cover letter that goes beyond one page.
3. Redundant cover letters
The recruiter already knows what the job description requires, and they will be frustrated if your cover letter restates this information. Similarly, it is safe to assume that a recruiter has already looked at your resume by the time they review your cover letter. DO NOT force them to read the same information over again. Instead, add new examples, provide new context, and offer new reasons for the recruiter to want to interview you.
4. Unprofessional cover letters
Keep it professional! Recruiters want to interview accomplished, yet humble, applicants. DO NOT embellish your past experiences to the point that recruiters question their validity. Also, DO NOT insult your current or previous employers in a cover letter. This looks bad no matter the circumstances and will rule you out from consideration.
5. Rambling cover letters
Stay focused on the task at hand: Landing an interview for the job you are applying for. Recruiters do not care about the rest of your job search. DO NOT mention how many jobs you are applying for, how long you have been searching for a job, or anything else about other opportunities in your cover letter. A good rule of thumb is that if you have not mentioned it briefly in your resume, you should not include it in your cover letter.
6. “Too soon” cover letters
A cover letter is part of your application for a job, and your goal should be to land an interview. As a result, DO NOT begin discussing the specifics of your employment. For example, including information regarding compensation (unless explicitly required in the job description) would be unprofessional in a cover letter because it assumes that you will definitely land the job. These conversations are best had during an interview or after receiving a job offer.
7. “Too late” cover letters
DO NOT submit more than one cover letter for an application, and DO NOT submit a cover letter after your application has been rejected. This will not strengthen your application or land you an offer out of pity. If you would like feedback on your application, email the recruiter directly, and explain that you are wondering whether the recruiting team has any feedback on your application or advice for the future.
That’s all for now! With these tips and tricks you should be in good shape to start writing cover letters. If there is anything we have not covered that you would like to hear more about please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.