iStock_000005359598_resume-211x300When well crafted, your cover letter can be an effective complement to your resume and provide a strong introduction to employers about why you are a great fit for the position. It offers insight into what you can do for the company and entices the hiring manager to want to keep reading to see what your resume holds. If poorly constructed, your cover letter can start hiring managers off with a less than stellar impression.

In order to boost the impact of your cover letter, avoid making these common mistakes:

  1. Starting off with a generic salutation. “Dear Sir or Madam” or “To Whom it May Concern” can quickly show that you put little effort into finding out more about the company or position. Do your best to identify who the hiring manager is and address them by name. Scope out the company website, do a quick Google search, or even try calling and asking. See if someone in your network might have connections and know who it should be addressed to. Oftentimes you can find the name of the person with a little searching and this can make your cover letter more personalized.
  2. Rehashing your resume. Your resume will be attached as well so why bore the hiring manager with the details of what will follow? Use your cover letter to highlight two or three key points that make you a solid candidate for the position. Ensure that these qualifications align with what the job opening is looking for and emphasize the impact you could make. You want the employer to be able to picture you in the role.
  3. Using the same cover letter for every job. Along the same lines as personalizing the greeting, you should also customize the content. Hiring managers can pick out a generic cover letter very quickly. Take the time to do a little research and read through the job opening and company website to really target what you are saying.
  4. Exceeding one page. Keep your cover letter short and to the point. There is no reason why it should exceed one page in length. Your resume may be two or even three pages, but your cover letter should not. If it is, you are probably including too many details and excess information. Pare things down to what will really stand out and make the hiring manager want to know more.
  5. Including personal details. You may be tempted to explain why you’re looking for another job or what led to your gap in employment, but those are items that can be addressed in an interview. Your cover letter should give a very positive impression of who you are and what you are capable of. Stick with relevant information to the position and keep it professional.
  6. Not having a cover letter. While not all hiring managers will read your cover letter, you never know who will. You are better off including it and giving them the option than wasting the opportunity to make a strong impression by not having one.

Boost your chances of landing an interview by not only having a professional and polished resume but also an engaging cover letter as well. Take the time to tailor it to the job and show your interest and attention to detail because that could be your next employer. You want to start out on the right foot.