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Are you applying for your first job and worried about your cover letter? - Careers

Make sure you stand out from other candidates that distinguishes you from the crowd, and puts your key points across in a clear and professional way.

Here’s how to avoid the top mistakes seen in cover letters…

There’s way too much fluff.

Talk about the experiences that directly relate to the skills and experience that they’re looking for based on the job application. If you’re applying for a hard-hitting financial role, now isn’t the best time to talk about your golfing hobby.

You will need to justify those skills too, not just “I’m great with communication” so adjust that to “I’m confident with communicating with a wide range of people, both through written and verbal methods. I developed these skills shadowing an office manager as part of my work experience.”

Not being confident in your skills and experience

It may be a little odd to write about how great you are at doing something, but your confidence and abilities needs to come across in your covering letter! If you include something like “I’ll prove I’m capable…” or “I may not be the most qualified person who’s applied for this but…” then that’s not demonstrating a positive outlook for an employer.

Instead, tell them why you are a strong candidate, and some positive work experience or skills that you’ve gained. You may have less than a minute of a possible employer reading your covering letter – make it count!

Not making it relevant

Believe us, employers can tell if you’ve just copied and pasted covering letters! They’ll go to the bottom of the pile as it shows you’ve made little effort in your application, so how much effort would you make at work?

Fix this by dropping in more than just the company name “I would like to work for X” as this is also quite obviously copied and pasted! Do a little bit of research into the company, whether through its social media accounts, news articles or its website, and pull out a few key pieces of information, or things you’d like to find out more about. This could also include awards they’ve won, great content they’ve produced or about the team you could be working in.

How formal is too formal?

You want to come across as professional and clear, not as if you’re recreating a great literary masterpiece. Don’t worry about Googling or using a thesaurus to make yourself sound like Shakespeare – it won’t come across well on paper, or if you get invited for an interview you will sound completely different!

If you need some advice then visit our helpful and impartial careers team at both campuses. Alternatively, you can ask family or friends to give their opinion too – they’re bound to have had experience in applying for jobs too!

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