5 Common Misconceptions About Writing A Cover Letter

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shocking truth on writing a cover letter

Writing a cover letter can be extremely tricky.  It’s your one opportunity to tell your potential employer what they can’t know from your resume.  It’s your chance to show off your personality. Writing a cover letter may seem fairly straight forward, but there are definitely some hidden pitfalls you must look out for.

Here are 5 common misconceptions about writing a cover letter:

1. It’s good to have a standard cover letter on file.

Wrong!  The key to writing a cover letter is customization.  Doing a little research to avoid using “To Whom It May Concern” as your opener goes a long way.  Cut and paste cover letters can be spotted a mile away.  Make sure your skills match the job description.  If you’re applying to be a bank teller, they don’t really care that you’re SCUBA certified.  It is your responsibility to connect the dots between your skills and the job requirements

2. More is better.

So untrue!  More is simply more.  According to Louise Kursmark, a certified professional résumé writer and author of 30-Minute Résumé Makeover,  if you’re lucky enough to have your resume and cover letter read by an actual human being, they dedicate less than 10 seconds to reading them.  10 seconds.  That’s not a lot of time to read your autobiography.  When writing a cover letter, highlight your top skills, don’t create a laundry list of every single thing you’ve done.  Again, the key to writing a cover letter here is customization.

3. Repeating your resume.

Danger!  Assume that the recruiter is literate enough to have read your resume.  Writing a cover letter should be your opportunity to sell yourself, not to explain everything that was on your resume.  This is your chance to include things that didn’t fall into the specific categories of : Objective, Job History, Education, and Skills.  Writing a cover letter is also your chance for the recruiter to see your personality and see if you fit the job requirements.

4. Just give them a taste.

False!  Teasing works for strippers, not for job seekers.  When writing a cover letter, using bold stokes to vague ideas to describe yourself wastes time.  Be specific, and be succinct.  Recruiters don’t want to hear that you’re a highly motivated individual.  They want to hear that you single handedly organized a company-wide bake sale to help orphaned kittens.

5. Bolder is better.

Nope!  Being bold when writing a cover letter may help you stand out in a crowd, but not in a good way.  Remember, attempts at humor don’t always come off as intended when in writing (please see the kitten joke above).  Also, too much flash not only makes you seem insincere, but it also makes you seem presumptuous.  You can be friendly, but always be polite.  Stand out because of your love for kittens, not because of your bad kitten jokes.

Avoid the common pitfalls when writing a cover letter.  Customize, be succinct, be specific, and be polite.  They are simple rules but bad a bad cover letter can be what keeps you from getting those call backs. Writing a cover letter is your chance to set yourself above the hordes of applicants, make yourself shine.


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