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By: Vincent Czaplyski
Don't start off your job search with one (or more) strikes
against you by committing any of these common cover letter
blunders. Each is easy to avoid, but they can sink your
chances of an interview if you include them in your letter.

1. Sending your letter to the wrong person, location, or
department.

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

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

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

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

3. Typos, misspellings, punctuation or grammatical errors.

There's no excuse for leaving any of these mistakes in a
cover letter (or a resume for that matter). If such matters
truly aren't your strong suite, ask a friend to look your
letter over for you. Blatant errors like these are just one
more reason for a hiring manager to shunt your resume and
cover letter aside, never to be seen again. Why? Because
they'll think you are too lazy, too uncaring or too
unskilled 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 newly
discovered missing page from James Joyce's Ulysses.
Especially when all they really want to understand is why
they should read the enclosed resume. Tightly written
sentences and three or four short paragraphs that
communicate the answer to that question will help ensure
your resume gets read, not tossed.

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

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

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

Do you listen to WIFM? Sure you do. That's What's In it For
Me, the little radio station in our heads that everyone
listens to, including the person who receives your letter.
Your potential employer wants to know what you can do for
him or her, not the other way around. Make sure your letter
highlights why you will be able to help their company sell
more widgets, design better satellites or otherwise make its
future brighter.

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

With rare exception, attention getters like overly busy
layouts, exotic multi-color designs and odd sized paper have
no place in a cover letter or resume. Save it for the
decorations at the next office party.

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

Copyright 2005 by Vincent Czaplyski, all rights reserved.

You may republish this article in its entirety, as long as
you include the complete signature file above without
modification.

About the Author

Copywriter and consultant Vincent Czaplyski is founder of
www.impressive-resumes.com, your online source for
professionally written "industrial strength" resumes and
cover letters guaranteed to land you an interview.

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