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It’s Not You, It’s Me. Avoiding a Fundamental Cover Letter Error

If your cover letter is all about you, you’ve failed. A well-crafted cover letter reflects the author, yes, but it focuses on the position. In order to avoid this perennial error, we’ve created a list of three things a cover letter is NOT. Have you fallen into any of these traps?

A cover letter is not a monologue. It’s a dialogue. Many enthusiastic job-seekers are so eager to highlight their strengths that they lose track of the point of a cover letter: to convince a hiring manager that you could be a good fit for their position. Your cover letter should signal that you’ve listened to who they are as a company and what they are looking for in this position—and invite them to respond to you.

A cover letter is not a résumé. Your cover letter should not list all your experience and qualifications: that’s what your résumé is for. The goal in your cover letter is to connect your passion to their mission and your experience to the job description.

A cover letter is not a wish list. Focus less on your needs and wants and more on how your skills will benefit the employer. If you get a call back, there will be plenty of time in the latter part of the interview process to discuss salary requirements, vacation days, and the like. A cover is not the appropriate place.

By understanding what a cover letter is—and isn’t—you can focus your efforts. Start from your interviewer's perspective. You will see what aspects of your qualifications you should highlight to stand out from other applicants.