Don’t make these 3 mistakes in your cover letter

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Don’t make these 3 mistakes in your cover letter

There’s plenty of advice on what to include on your resume: numbers that prove your accomplishments, language that appears in the job description (as long as it’s relevant to your experience, of course), and impact verbs like “achieved” and “improved ” .”

But when it comes to your cover letter, it can seem a little less straightforward and sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what to include.

“A cover letter is like a written introduction to yourself,” says Gorick Ng, a career counselor at Harvard and author of The Unspoken Rules. Ideally, it’s about three paragraphs that relate to who you are, why you’re interested in the role, and a few relevant experiences that translate directly to it. It’s like a “personal sales pitch,” he says.

You can easily mess things up, though. Here’s what not to include in your cover letter.

For starters, it’s extremely important to address your cover letter to an actual person, rather than a generic “to whom it may concern.”

If you know who the head of talent is or whoever is responsible for hiring for that particular team or role, addressing that cover letter to them “shows even the slightest bit more commitment,” says Ng. Many people don’t send a cover letter, and if they do, they go down this non-specific route. This personal touch will make you stand out.

If you don’t know who that hiring manager is, try searching on Google or LinkedIn to find them, your prospect’s department head, or someone else who may be involved in the hiring process.

“You might not get it right, but even if you wrote it to someone who is even remotely involved in the process,” says Ng, it goes a long way.

Another thing that is very important: getting the details of the gig you are applying for right. “An easy way to personalize your cover letter that literally takes less than a minute is to mention the company name and job title,” says Ng.

Include these details in the first paragraph of your cover letter after introducing yourself.

This may sound obvious, but many people don’t take the time to write a specific cover letter for each position they apply for. “What they do is write a common block of text that is copied and pasted for everyone,” says Ng. Often this does not include the company and the role they are applying for.

These days, there’s a lot you can learn about an employer before you even set foot in their office. And when it comes to your cover letter, you want to give them the feeling that you’ve done your homework and know the culture you’re entering.

Check out the employer’s website, blog, any interviews executives may have done with the media, and any reviews written by past or current employees to get an idea of ​​how tight-knit or loose the company is. If none of these help you figure out how much flair or personality you can infuse your cover letter with, keep the language neutral and straightforward.

“Be really conscious and present” about the language you use, says Christine Sachs, an executive and leadership coach. “Because what’s likely to happen is that you’ve acquired certain ways of speaking, presenting, writing that are appropriate for your previous institution but not necessarily appropriate for the new institution.”

“I think people are trying to be clever or trying to add a little bit of personality,” Sachs says. If it’s not the company’s culture, it can turn them off.

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Here’s an example of the perfect cover letter, according to Harvard career experts

The First Sentence You Should Use to Start Your Cover Letter, According to ZipRecruiter’s CEO

Career Expert: How to Write a Cover Letter That Really Gets You Noticed

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