Cover Letter Mistakes, Part 1

The rest of this month we're going to do a multi-part series of Tuesday Tips on cover letters. Specifically, I'm going to go through the most common mistakes I see when giving feedback on cover letters and give you tips on how to avoid them.

This week's mistake: Making the cover letter all about what you want instead of what you have to offer.

My husband is a wonderfully humble person, which means he used to write terrible cover letters. (Thankfully, he's learned a thing or two from my feedback over the years.) People who feel uncomfortable talking about the impressive things they've done tend to write cover letters that read something like this:

"I am very interested in this position. I really love working with children. I think it would be so great to get to spend time with children all day long, and I would have so much fun. Your organization has had such a positive impact on this community, and it would be an honor to work for you and work with the children in your organization."

All I get from this is "I want this job. Give me this job."

What I told my husband, when he said he was uncomfortable bragging about himself, was this: "All you're talking about is what you're going to get from this position. What are you offering them in return?"

After you write your cover letter, read back through it and ask yourself, "Is this more about what I would get out of the position, or what I would give to the company or organization?"

It's not rude to sell yourself as a candidate. It's expected that you're going to do the work of explaining why you're a good fit for the position, not leave that up to the hiring manager's imagination. So check your cover letter and make sure that that comes through.