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March 31, 2009

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Although companies consistently demand applicants tosubmit cover letters along with their resumes, many jobseekers still believe thecover letter to be nothing but a mild formality. Sometimes they don'tbother sending a cover letter at all or just send one-paragraph notes,quickly belted out with little thought.

Too short is too bad

Many people send short throwaway notesin place of real cover letters. A cover letter shouldhave three to four paragraphs,with the longest one being the middle one or two, and the shortest onebeing the summation paragraph. The idea is to make the documentbrief and easily readable while still demonstrating a professional,thoughtful manner.

Silliness

In attempt to let their personality and humor soak through thecotton-bound paper, many applicants try to make their cover lettersfunny. But these attempts rarely work. You have no way of knowing ifyour prospective boss shares your sense of humor. Moreover, the cover letter offers a sample of your ability to conductbusiness-like communications.

Poor Grammar and, Mispelings

No one wants to make grammatical or spelling errors but manyapplicants nevertheless submit cover letters with small andthoughtless, yet deadly, errors. People have a difficult time seeingthe mistakes in their own writing, so ask someone else to proofread thecover letter for you. Spell checks can also insinuate typos, as demonstrated byone cover letter writer who boasted that "Referees are available onrequest."

Cliches put egg on your face

It goes without saying that the best way to sound unremarkable andinsincere is to fill your cover letter with cliches and buzzwords. Even if thosebuzzwords represent honest information you are trying to relay,remember, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The best wayto express your desires is to say how you really feel. So if you come up with the realMcCoy, take a bow, because you're moving in the right direction fasterthan a speeding bullet.

Pontificating with immoderately labored interpretive phraseologies(That is, writing overdone sentences)

How manytimes have you seen someone strain to play it cool, only to crash andburn after misusing an impressive-sounding word? In an attempt to soundintelligent, cover letter writers regularly produce sentences that usebig, impressive, but unfamiliar words.

No egomaniacs or sycophants

This is an opportunity for you to give employers an idea of who youare, what you've accomplished and how you can contribute to theircompany. Nobody likes a self-absorbed narcissist, and even fewer peoplewant to work with one. Avoidunqualified, grandiose statements and assumptions about how impressedyour reader will be with you.

On the other hand, don't pour on a bunch of flattering statements about potential employers unless you mean them. Chances are, anyinsincerity will drip through, making you look like a smug littlejackass. Still, honesty doesn't mean including everything. Avoidpersonal negatives ("I just got fired from my job because I refused towork on my birthday") and overblown confessions. If you're interested in a position or company, just saywhy.

Okay:

"Cymad's increasing stake in the booming semiconductor market makes this position intriguing indeed."

"I've admired your company's products for some time, especially the Nibok 5000."

No good:

"You have the most fabulous company ever and it would be the culmination of my life dream to work with you."

"I would DIE to work at Microdex."

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