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Seven things not to do in a cover letter


Resume writing has become so precise that it's almost a science. With all the how-to books and articles devoted to building a resume that gets noticed, its' fairly easy to build a good resume if you've got the credentials to back it up.

The thing I've always had trouble with is the cover letter. And of course, the cover letter is often the feature most touted by career advisors. This is where, they say, the prospective employer really "meets" you.

Tag and Catherine Goulet, authors of "Dream Careers: How to Quickly Break Into a Fab Job!," are also co-CEOs of FabJob.com, which touts itself as the "world's leading publisher of information about dream careers." If you can ignore the use of the nauseating word "fab" and negotiate the list of dream careers the site lists, you can find some good, practical advice for finding any kind of job. (If you look carefully, wedged between Travel Writer and Wedding Planner, you'll find Web Developer. There could be more tech careers in there, but that's all I found in a precursory glance.)

Here's a good list of what the women say are the seven things you don't want to do in a cover letter. They are:

Don't address the letter "Dear Sirs." The person reading your letter may be a woman who won't be impressed with this salutation. Instead, find out the name of the person who will be reviewing your résumé by contacting the company's human resources department, or address your letter "Attention: Human Resources Department" if they won't give you a name. 2. Don't forget to say which position you are applying for. Many companies advertise more than one position at a time. 3. Don't send a cover letter that has not been thoroughly proofread. Typographical and grammatical errors (such as confusing "you're" with "your") create a poor impression. 4. Don't focus on what you want. In this case the applicant said he thought he'd enjoy the job and get experience. Focus instead on what value you can bring to the employer, such as increasing revenues or cutting costs. 5. Don't send a generic letter. You can make a much better impression by mentioning the company name and doing a little research so you can say something flattering about the company. You can learn what companies pride themselves on, including their products and achievements, by checking their Web sites. 6. Don't appear desperate. Avoid comments such as "I've already sent out a bunch of résumés without much luck." Employers may wonder if there's a good reason why no one else has hired you. 7. Don't challenge them to hire you. Employers will be turned off if you say something like "It's your loss if you don't hire me." Instead, show them, with examples of your accomplishments, why you would be an asset to their company.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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