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7 Deadly Cover Writing Sins

Don't start off your job search with one (or more) strikesagainst you by committing any of these common cover letterblunders. Each is easy to avoid, but they can sink yourchances of an interview if you include them in your letter.

1. Sending your letter to the wrong person, location, ordepartment.

Do you really want your letter to land you a job at thecompany you're sending it to? Then take the time to verifythat you have the proper name, title and address for thehiring manager or other decision maker who should receiveit.

Unless you're absolutely sure you already have the most up-to-date contact information, take a few minutes to call andask. Otherwise you may as well not bother sending yourletter - it most likely won't reach the intended recipient.And if it does, he or she won't be impressed that you didn'tbother to take this simple step.

2. Irritating your potential employer with a pushy, arrogantor conceited tone to your letter.

Are you truly God's gift to humanity? If not, chances areyou ought to come across with a bit of humility, notbraggadocio. Save the "I am too good for you not to hire me"stuff for when you're bragging to your friends about thegreat job you just landed. (Even they probably won't beimpressed - and they already like you!) Instead, let youraccomplishments and skills speak for themselves.

3. Typos, misspellings, punctuation or grammatical errors.

There's no excuse for leaving any of these mistakes in acover letter (or a resume for that matter). If such matterstruly aren't your strong suite, ask a friend to look yourletter over for you. Blatant errors like these are just onemore reason for a hiring manager to shunt your resume andcover letter aside, never to be seen again. Why? Becausethey'll think you are too lazy, too uncaring or toounskilled to be a good fit at their company.

4. Writing rambling, unfocused sentences and paragraphs.

Few hiring managers want to think they're reading a newlydiscovered missing page from James Joyce's Ulysses.Especially when all they really want to understand is whythey should read the enclosed resume. Tightly writtensentences and three or four short paragraphs thatcommunicate the answer to that question will help ensureyour resume gets read, not tossed.

5. Writing long letters, even if well focused and wellwritten.

Here's a good rule to live by: Don't go over one page. It'sa cover letter, not your autobiography. Capture yourreader's attention quickly and impress him or her with yourwell written main points. Then let your resume do the restof the talking. Until the interview of course.

6. Writing a letter that is all about you, and not aboutwhat you can do for your prospective employer.

Do you listen to WIFM? Sure you do. That's What's In it ForMe, the little radio station in our heads that everyonelistens to, including the person who receives your letter.Your potential employer wants to know what you can do forhim or her, not the other way around. Make sure your letterhighlights why you will be able to help their company sellmore widgets, design better satellites or otherwise make itsfuture brighter.

7. Using odd layouts, too many fonts, colors and otherattention getting devices.

With rare exception, attention getters like overly busylayouts, exotic multi-color designs and odd sized paper haveno place in a cover letter or resume. Save it for thedecorations at the next office party.

Follow these common sense suggestions and you'll write acover letter that is bound to make you stand out-and landyou an interview.

Copyright 2005 by Vincent Czaplyski, all rights reserved.

You may republish this article in its entirety, as long asyou include the complete signature file above withoutmodification.

Copywriter and consultant Vincent Czaplyski is founder ofhttp://www.impressive-resumes.com, your online source forprofessionally written "industrial strength" resumes andcover letters guaranteed to land you an interview.


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