[By Laura Buisman]

These days, the cover letter seems to be a necessary evil of the hiring process. Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a writer for Forbes Magazine, admits, “I almost never read my candidates’ cover letters. However, as a career coach, I strongly encourage all my job seeking clients to draft a powerful cover letter.”

It’s important to ensure your cover letter sets you apart from the horde of job candidates who are eager to impress. The following are three common mistakes that could kill your job search:

  1. Spelling Mistakes and Grammatical Errors
    Typos and grammatical errors are the most common mistakes you can make when writing a cover letter, but they are easy to avoid. Have your family and friends look over your work multiple times. This sin is especially important to keep in mind if you’re looking for a career in public relations and communications. PR professionals must be detail oriented. A typo suggests to an employer that you are lazy and can’t be bothered to check your work.
  2. Poor Formatting
    Large blocks of text can be a turnoff for hiring managers. Use bullet points to highlight the reasons why you are the best candidate for the job. This way, it’s easy for an employer to scan your application and pick up on your best attributes. Smart communications students know that people’s eyes are drawn to short and concise bursts of text. Use this to your advantage and you’ll get interviews in no time.
  3. The Cookie-Cutter Cover Letter
    Every hiring manager sees the same style of cover letter from hundreds of applicants, which is why it’s important to customize your cover letter for every application. You can even use specific wording from the job description to tailor your application and make it the perfect fit. Ceniza-Levine says the cover letter is your chance to “speak directly to an individual reader.” Use this space to prove why you are the best candidate for the job.

Avoid these sins and you will be well on your way to the perfect career. Happy job hunting!

(Photo by bearstache via Flickr distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 License)