CareerOwl Featured Career Article

Cover Letter Gaffes
copyright © by Kevin Donlin

Is your job search going nowhere?

Then take time to re-examine your approach. If the resumes and cover letters you're sending out have mistakes in them -- even one or two -- you're shooting yourself in the foot. And costing yourself thousands of dollars in lost salary as your job search drags on, and on ..

Kevin Donlin
Kevin Donlin
This week, we'll focus on eliminating errors in your cover letters.

To illustrate, I want to share the story of "Tom" from Seattle, WA, who wrote: "I think I've managed to do everything I'm NOT supposed to do in creating a hard-hitting, cover letter and resume, which would explain why I'm not receiving any calls from employers."

Learn from the cover letter mistakes of Tom (and others) below .

1) Proofread or perish
"I live not too far from Seattle," says Tom. However, there was a terrific job in Phoenix I thought I'd be great for, so I tweaked my generic cover letter and resume, then e-mailed them to the Director of HR.

"One problem: the last time I used the same cover letter (for another employer), I had written that I would be more than happy to relocate to Portland. Oops. So much for getting the job in Arizona."

2) The "Bureau of Missing Persons" effect
Tom didn't do this, but don't you forget to include your phone number and other crucial contact information.

A no-brainer, right? Wrong.

One cover letter that crossed my desk said, "Please call me at your next convenience," but didn't include a phone number. Not good.

3) Assume nothing -- check your facts
"Another mistake is making a name assumption based on an e-mail address," continues Tom.

"The contact person for a job had this e-mail address -- assumed his name was Jack Sonny, so I sent my e-mail with the salutation: "Dear Jack:" . an aide wrote me back: "HER real name was Nancy Y. Jackson."

Another blown job opportunity.

4) English, please
Don't write like someone who's been hit over the head with a legal dictionary.

Here's an example for one cover letter I finally gave up on reading: "I specialize in the implementation of workplace solutions that leverage self-directed teams toward increased throughput."

Huh? Write as you would speak to a live human at a networking event.

You can avoid all four of the gaffes above if you do two things: take your time writing, then ask a trusted friend to review your letter.

Keep this final point in mind. After reading every sentence in your cover letter, ask yourself: "So, what?" Is that last sentence compelling, or fluff? Necessary? TRUE? If not, rewrite or remove it. Then ask yourself "So, what?" again. Revise until every sentence shines.

Best of luck to you!

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Kevin Donlin is Managing Editor of 1 Day Resumes. The 1DR writers provide same-day, one-on-one resume writing assistance. He is also author of "Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed," a do-it-yourself manual that will help you find a job in 30 days ... or your money back. For more information, click here.

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