This article is based on our conversation in the video above I talk with the fantastic Tara Cull ✨ ESL Coach and discuss some common mistakes in emails and cover letters that you need to avoid.
We talk about how you can grab attention quickly, how long your cover letter should be, how you can use language and some of the biggest mistakes we see.
When you’re writing a cover letter, it’s important to move away from the templates and expressions you THINK you should be using.
Some people believe a cover letter isn’t that important, but Tara reckons it’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the rest.
Get creative, think out of the box, and make it personal so your personality comes through. Keep it short – don’t bore your audience.
Think about how you might turn negative language into positive opportunities.
What are some of the top 6 mistakes?
Mistake #1 Believing the email and the cover letter aren’t that important.
If you want to stand out, then every document of your job application is your chance to grab someone’s attention.
Firstly, the introductory email is a taste of who you are. Think of it as the cover letter but shorter and stating all the documents you have attached.
Here is an example of two opening lines in an email by one of Tara’s clients and it landed them an interview:
I am an Architectural Designer from Brazil with two years of local experience in Australia. I bring a unique perspective to a team and my projects merging my experience from Brazil with a deep appreciation for design differences in Australia.
I was immediately hooked! I wanted to know more about what they meant about the deep appreciation and unique perspectives!
A good cover letter attempts to expand on this but also to determine what the employer’s needs are, then explains how your experience will help meet or exceed these needs and expectations. When I speak to the directors of practices and senior architects and landscape architects – they all say the same thing. Tailoring your application will help you to stand out because it shows that your values align with the company.
As Stephen says: Don’t be afraid to be bold! (Pardon the pun!)
I can see from the types of projects you’re passionate about that my international experience and advanced software skills would fill the gap you’re looking to fill.
Mistake #2 – Addressing the cover letter incorrectly
It’s better to address it to a person.
Don’t address it with: “To whom it may concern, Sir or Madame”
If you don’t know who to address it to, call to ask:
Examples (when you need to call):
“I’m calling in response to the job I saw on x, could you tell me who would be the best person to address my cover letter to?”
“Who can I direct my job application to?”
This initiative may even spark further conversation. They may tell you that you don’t need a cover letter. So use the phone call as an opportunity to show you’re keen.
Mistake #3 – Not putting enough effort into the opening paragraph
Try to draw the reader in with your story, your values, where you have come from and how this connects with who you’re applying to work with.
Think about what you will share with others about your history, culture and identity? You have 1-2 lines to draw the person in so make it count.
In the next lesson, we’ll discuss some good cover letter openers and why they are good and some examples of persuasive language that Stephen discussed in the video.
Mistake #4 – Not getting the format right
Format – too long or making the writing too small. It should be 10 -11pt font size.
Match the skills and experience to the job
1 page at most or 3/4 is ideal
Avoid long ‘wordy’ sentences.
You don’t need to impress people with big words or jargon, rather you want to make your message clear and easy to understand.
Mistake #5 – Sentences are too simple or don’t have sentence length variations.
As Will explained in the video, often cover letters can contain a recap of the CV and this can appear as short boring sentences. To engage the reader try to vary the length of your sentences.
If sentence structure is something you need help with, see below for some examples.
Mistake #6 Not proofreading or not getting someone to look at it
Grammatical errors, no matter who is applying will most likely be sent to the bottom of the pile.
Grammarly is a great tool for checking over cover letters and CV’s.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and get in touch
The fantastic Tara Cull ✨ ESL Coach at ArchiEnglish helped put pen to paper for this article. If you want to learn more about ArchiEnglish, check out their website!
If you’d like to find more articles written by Tara they are on the Architecture Social’s community forum here: https://community.architecturesocial.com/
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