A cover letter is in some ways a “survive to the next level or break” tool in your arsenal of weapons.Â A great cover letter may not get you the coveted interview.Â A terrible cover letter will absolutely guarantee you will not get the interview.
A cover letterâ€™s purpose is to engage the reader just enough so that she will look at your resume with a touch more interest than normal.Â And that is what you want, a reader who is actually interested in what is written on the resume.Â Do not discount this, as the HR representative and/or the hiring manager can get very disinterested after reading 50 cover letter/resume submissions with another stack yet to go.
I have talked before about some of the elements that go into a good cover letter.Â And I have also talked about some of the common mistakes that applicants make in writing a cover letter.Â Here, I want to discuss some of smaller yet vital ways in which one can sabotage oneself.
- Have you ever sent a letter without a date on the letter?Â Have you ever used word processing software that automatically inserts the current date as you write a letter?Â What if the date is wrong or you forget to date it?Â This is a small detail that if you overlook, the reader will not.Â All employers expect that applicants will pay attention to detail.Â Missing this small, small detail will be enough to prevent you from going to the next level.
- How do you spell Laylani or is it Leilani?Â Or what about a name like Terry Fisher or Terri Fischer?Â But you would never misspell a name, would you?Â Yet, it happens far too often.Â And if you are rejected because you made this simple, innocent error; you will never know the reason why.
- If the reader needs a dictionary by her side, as she reads your cover letter; you will not “survive to the next level.”Â Yes, use words appropriate to the business you are a part of or want to be a part of, but you are not writing a thesis.Â When in doubt, use everyday language to introduce yourself.
- What is your reaction to a run-on sentence or a run-on paragraph?Â Break your letter into short, concise thoughts with bullet points to highlight important points.Â Small, bite size pieces are always more enjoyable and easier to digest.Â Your cover letter should follow that line of thought.
- You cannot have grammatical errors.Â You cannot have misspelled words.Â You cannot convey the impression that you lack basic writing skills.Â And while software checkers are okay, nothing and no one can replace a good proofreader.Â
There you have it; five small (and not so small) details that can keep you from getting to the next level.Â And that is what you want – to get to the next level.