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Finding a job isn't a simple task in normal circumstances. Add in an ultra-competitive job market and there's no margin for error.

For job seekers, an underwhelming cover letter is one of the major factors preventing them from moving forward in the job search process, and it's the smallest errors that can get your cover letter thrown out.

Cover letters are extremely important to securing a job interview. If you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again, you may never hear back about the job opportunities that you desire.

Recruiters go through hundreds of cover letters and know exactly what they're looking for. If your cover letter has these simple mistakes, it will get tossed.

A Lazy Greeting

A job seeker struggles to writer her cover letter.

Don't start your cover letter with "To Whom It May Concern."

This phrase is impersonal, old-fashioned, and incredibly lazy.

For one, job seekers should be able to track down the company's hiring manager or lead recruiter via the company's website or LinkedIn page. (Many LinkedIn postings contain the profile of the recruiter posting the opening.)

In cases where you can't find a name, use "Dear hiring team." It's a lot more personal.

Too Much Bragging

An over-confident job seeker boosting about himself.

If the majority of your cover letter is focused on how great you are, then you have a problem. Many job seekers will take up space in their cover letter with empty statements like, "I'm a self-starter and a great team player." Not only should such statements be quantified, but there's really no room for such self-promotion in the cover letter.

Instead, the cover letter should focus on how you understand the company you're applying to and its mission, and how you personally connect to that mission. You need to make a personal connection, and show how you'll be able to fit into the company and its culture.

You can sell your skills in your resume, and if you land an interview, you'll have an additional opportunity to sell yourself as a strong employee.

Treating Your Cover Letter Like A Resume

A cover letter is an entirely different document than a resume! This point can't be stressed enough. A recruiter will not waste their time looking at two documents that are virtually identical.

A resume captures your work history, skill sets, and accomplishments, while a cover letter is your opportunity to express interest in the job and make a connection with the company.

The best way to do this is with a disruptive cover, in which you grab the recruiter's attention from the start by sharing a personal story about how you connect with the company, or position, you're applying to.

Explain what you admire about the company you're applying to. Do they sell a product or provide a service that's had a big impact on your life? Do they support causes you are passionate about? Why do you feel connected to their mission?

Once you draw the recruiter in, you can slowly begin to explain why you'd fit into that company's culture.

Here are some great, FREE examples of the proper way to write a cover letter!

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