Cover letters should always be tailored for the position you are applying for. Read the job posting in-detail and note the qualifications you possess. Highlight those skills and abilities within the content of your cover letter. Don’t use such valuable space to write a novel about your work ethic and why you’re the best fit for the job. Allow your compatible qualifications to speak for themselves and refer to them in context with previous work experience. The job posting should be your number one reference when writing a cover letter.
2.) Keep it Short & Sweet – Quality over Quantity
Your cover letter should never exceed a single page, and you should only include the information most relevant to the position you are applying for. Write a few drafts and print the job description for reference. Anything you find that you have included in your cover letter that isn’t directly related to the qualifications listed in the job description should be excluded.
3.) Don’t Repeat Resume Content
Your cover letter is like your sales pitch whereas your resume is comparable to your portfolio. Often times, the quality of your cover letter will determine if your resume is reviewed. So, save some of the most vital qualifications, achievements, and skills for your cover letter. Don’t just repeat what’s on your resume.
4.) Focus on What You Have to Offer
Always focus on what you have to offer the employer, not what the employer can do for you. Employers want assets and achievers, not liabilities. It’s almost always about what you can do for them, not about what they can do for you. So, use your cover letter as a platform for highlighting the ways in which you can be an asset. Express your interest in benefiting the business, but don’t focus too much on yourself.
5.) Do Your Research
Always, always do your research. Get to know the business you are applying with. Even if you’ve been a professional in the same field for many years, each company is different in its workforce values. Start with the Mission Statement and continue to dig. Include some variation of the Mission Statement in your cover letter. It is easier to appeal to an entity you understand and be welcomed as a result. Portray yourself as a great candidate to be a part of the team.
Have you ever turned in a resume and anticipated a call for an interview only to have gotten your hopes up? Or, maybe you’ve had this happen several times?
There are a few reasons this does or keeps happening. Sometimes proofreading from your peers simply isn’t enough if you’re attempting to get a higher profile job or an above entry level position.
The best thing you can do for your resume, aside from hiring a professional writer, is to take some extra precautions yourself while writing it. As a recent college grad myself, I understand that hiring a professional isn’t always exactly in the budget. Hence, this week’s -my 1st post’s- topic: Addressing 5 common resume mistakes and how to avoid them.
Typos and Grammatical Errors
A typo can – and in most cases will – cost you the job. Hiring managers and Human Resources Representatives view typos as a projection of an individuals lack of attention to detail or carelessness. When an employer comes across a typo or grammatical error on an applicant’s resume, it just makes the process of ruling out that applicant even easier. To them, you will also be likely to screw up at work.
Avoiding this error is as simple as proofreading your resume at least three times, on separate occasions, before you submit or print it. You can even ask a professor or any local academic figure to proofread and evaluate for you. It can be anyone you know to possess good grammar skills.
I definitely recommend purchasing your own grammar book. They are useful tools and the more you use it, the more you will find yourself not needing it!
To give you an idea of some of the more common typo and grammatical errors often encountered, let’s review an example:
There are several major errors included in the example, and they are pretty self explanatory. Typos are so easy to avoid, although grammatical errors may be a bit more challenging to catch. Aside from purchasing a grammar book, you can also download an app – like Grammarly – to run your sentences and statements through while proofreading your resume.
Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments
If you have been or are a successful attribute to a company, list how you have assisted in an increase in sales or helped to solve one of the business’ problems.
Companies and businesses always want to hear what you can do for them, not what they can do for you! Sell yourself! Apply any talents, like being creative and artistic or possessing above average interpersonal skills, you may have to scenarios where you can increase the productivity or revenue of the business you wish to work for.
To elaborate, using your creative skills, you could potentially assist with unique problem solving or out-of-the-ordinary organizational skills. Have you done anything along these lines for a previous employer? Then include that in your resume!
I cannot stress this point enough: if a company doesn’t see you as a contributing member with something unique to offer and an asset, then someone else who meets those requirements will be more likely to get the job.
To be a bit more precise, lets consider another example: Even if you ran a cash register, you surely contributed positively in some way. Instead of listing the obvious “operated and balanced cash register” on your resume, list “helped to increase business sales by providing exceptional customer service,” or “ensured that customers felt comfortable and welcome by maintaining a well kept storefront and friendly environment.”
You want a higher-up career change? Let’s look a little further into the Cashier’s experience. Many cashier’s are encouraged to initiate suggestive selling techniques -meaning they interact with customers in way that is intended to increase sales- which in turn benefits the company by increasing revenue. Have you ever been checking out at a convenient store or gas station and had the cashier inform you that one of the items you are buying is on sale and that they are running a buy-one-get-two-free promotional? That is suggestive selling!
You can go from cashier to salesman like that! Emphasize and play on those skills! It will benefit you, every time!
Leaving off Important Information
This mistake can cause you to blend in with the other applicants. Is there anything noteworthy about you that you can include on your resume? Anything about you; accomplishments, awards, certifications, licenses (excluding your diver’s license), academic honors, outstanding performance in extracurricular activities, academic excellence, and etc. Listing personal achievements of this nature can give you the upper hand over the competing applicants, so long as what you include is relevant to the job you are applying for!
Make sure it’s relevant to the position for which you are applying! I cannot stress this enough. Relevancy is like, a BIG deal!
If you’re applying for a receptionist job, don’t list how well you performed on your college volleyball team. Instead, mention how you collaborated with team members to maintain open and effective communication. For formatting help with listing achievements of this type while remaining relevant, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to personally help you out!
Many companies are now taking applications online, and they use special software to help with choosing the best-fit resumes. This software utilizes keywords, meaning it scans your resume for content specified by the employer. If your resume lacks content relevant to the job in which you are applying, particularly online, there’s a big possibility that your resume will not be chosen. More like a huge possibility.
To avoid this mistake, try utilizing Google to perform a keyword search to look for words associated with the position or company you plan to apply for. Use these keywords in the “Qualifications” section of your resume. Or, you can even find a way to fit some of these words into the achievements/duties listed under “Experience.” Just be sure that wherever you include the keywords, that you don’t disrupt the flow or readability of your resume. Try not to make it too wordy, overly complicated, or difficult to read, because this will dissuade employers.
Lack of Customization
Don’t conform to everyone else’s standards! Standing out from the crowd is often times a good thing! Especially in the world of resumes and job seeking.
I do not recommend using templates to create your resume. Instead, refer to one you like but don’t follow it to a T. Employers like to see that you have basic technical skills (Microsoft Word, etc.), that you have the ability to be creative, and that you can be original. These skills are an asset to any company and they usually entail other characteristics, like problem solving skills, being innovative, and taking new approaches – skills so necessary and valuable in modern day marketing and business.
Another way you can – and should – customize your resume is designing it to showcase your greatest worth and accomplishments, as mentioned under “Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments” and “Leaving Off Important Information.” If you’re serious, or even desperate, about getting the job, I highly recommend resume customization.
To Sum it Up
Proofread your resumes! Typos and grammatical errors are, in my opinion, the easiest mistake to avoid when creating your resume. Sell yourself! Don’t forget to include those accomplishments! Anyone can complete duties that go along with any particular job, but it takes an achiever to be an asset.
Don’t forget to include anything and everything pertinent to the job you’re trying to get! And, make sure you do some research on relevant keywords, especially if you will be applying online. Last, but not least, personalize your resume. Forget about templates and just start typing! Play with some of the features of your word document software and become familiar with how to use it. You’ll likely find that you like your own creation much more than some downloaded template. Resumes are not one-size-fits-all!
Share this article to help others avoid these mistakes! They are far more common than you think, and you’d be doing a friend or relative great justice by helping them to avoid these five common resume writing mistakes. You will find share buttons at the bottom of the page! Share away!
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What are some concerns you have, not addressed in this article, about your resume? Drop a comment and we may discuss it in an upcoming post! I also provide free resume evaluation services through my business, Britt’s Quick Resumes, for a limited time only! Feel free to email me a copy of your resume! Don’t forget to mention “Free Evaluation” in the subject line!
The mistakes included in this article are only five of many, many others. We will be covering five more resume mistakes and how to avoid them in my next article. I can’t wait!