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Reminder: Top 10 Cover Letter DONT’S

June 02, 2011 by Careerminds

Cover letters are important, we’ve told you this before. Chances are, if you’ve been in the job search for some time now or have talked to anyone about the fact that you’re on the hunt for a job, they’ve given you some pointers on your resume and cover letter. Sometimes you just need a little reminder of what to do or not to do before sending out your application for a job. So, this post is exactly that: A reminder of the top 10 cover letter don’ts. We suggest you take these seriously as you move forward with your job search.

Don’t be generic
Make sure that each position has its own specific cover letter. Make sure that you mention the company, the position, and the specific traits and experience that the description asks for. If you are too generic you will communicate to the hiring manager or recruiter that you don’t care, and that you have been sending out the same cover letter to tons of jobs. Save the cover letter, too, so that you can review it if you are asked to participate in a phone or in-person interview.

Don’t be modest.
This is your time to shine. Sometimes, your resume isn’t even looked at if your cover letter doesn’t get the HR professional’s attention, so make sure to highlight your key attributes in the top half of your cover letter.

Don’t ramble.
It is important to be specific and to outline your key accomplishments and traits, but don’t ramble. Pick out a few highlights and mention them in your cover letter, but don’t mention every single thing or every single detail. Be short an to the point.

Don’t write more than a page.
Along the same lines as the “don’t ramble” notion, do not write more than a page. There could be over 1,000 resumes in the pile, giving you only a short amount of time to communicate your worth. Writing more than a page could get you tossed aside just based on the length of your cover letter-  so keep it short.

Don’t send your letter to nobody.
“To Whom This May Concern” has become a big no-no. If there’s someone you can ask who to the address the letter to, then do it. The HR professional would rather be addressed personally than consider themselves the one whom is concerned.

Don’t send a blank message.
If you’re sending your cover letter and resume via e-mail, be sure to include a message in the body of the e-mail. Again, keep it very short, but a few sentences about who you are and why you’re applying as well as a thank you can go a long way.

Don’t forget to update.
When you complete a project or make any other steps, make sure to update your resume and cover letter both on your computer and on the web, if you have posted it to job boards or on LinkedIn. Keeping yourself up-to-date as things happen will make it easier when it comes time to writing a letter for a specific position.


Don’t just talk about yourself.
One of the biggest mistakes that you could make when writing your cover letter is forgetting to mention the company. Highlight your key accomplishments and attributes first, but make sure to mention specific aspects of the company next. Whether you mention that you’ve noticed their mission statement and feel as though you are a fit, or you mention something that has been said about them in the news to show that you are keeping up, it will make a huge difference. And you certainly won’t be generic.


Don’t forget to follow up.
You can read what we have to say here about following up on an application, but this is a very important step that should not be forgotten! Show initiative and enthusiasm by making a call or sending an e-mail. Don’t just let the cover letter sit, go after it.


Don’t forget to polish.
Do not forget to proofread your cover letter, and several times. You do not want anything that could deter from your worth, so many sure that there are no spelling, grammatical or mechanical mistakes of any kind. A second pair of eyes couldn’t hurt, either.




Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.




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