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3 Major Pitfalls to Avoid When Drafting the Perfect Cover Letter

Cover Letter Resources
Posted on: 12/04/2017
Resume and contract

Your cover letter may be the first thing that a prospective employer will judge you on. It is very easy to fall at this first hurdle and have the rest of your application tossed aside unread. There are three major Pitfalls that writers of cover letters can stumble into. Here’s what they are and the best ways to avoid them.

The Autobiographical Impulse

Pitfall: Quite why some people seem to want to narrate their life story in a cover letter is a mystery to us, but it is something that we have seen time and again. 

Avoidance Strategy: Choose only those details that are relevant to your application and don’t simply supply information that will be repeated when your prospective employer looks at your CV. Relevant details might include: who you are, how you became aware of the vacant position, why you wish to work for the company in this particular role and what qualities make you feel you are suitable for the position. Nobody needs to know that you decided to drop PPE and pursue engineering in your first year at university after a conversation about wind turbines with a girl at Glastonbury festival.

The Solecistic Erratum

Pitfall: The solecistic erratum takes two forms. The first consists of making simple mistakes in spelling and grammar. The second is trying to sound smart by using obscure words for everyday concepts.

Avoidance Strategy: Have someone read over your cover letter before you send it off. Most people have a friend who is good at spelling and grammar who will do you a quick proofread for the price of a coffee. Alternatively, there are professionals who will do the same for a fee. If there is a simpler way of wording a phrase: use it. Technical language is acceptable if relevant, but don’t misuse it, you are probably writing to the person who wrote the book.

The Ignorant Approach

Pitfall: Expecting to get the job by just presenting yourself with no reference to the company or the position that you are applying for.

Avoidance Strategy: Take the time to thoroughly research the company that you are applying for a job with. Find out the range of products and services that they offer. Discover the history of the company and think about its future. Present yourself within this context and you are much more likely to get called to interview.

There are more tips for writing cover letters and CVs, and advice on interview technique, over on the candidate resources page of our website.