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How to Avoid Writing an Awful Cover Letter

Your cover letter is the first contact that a potential employer has with you. To make a great impression, there are several cover letter mistakes that you should avoid if you'd like to hear the words "you're hired."


  • Step 1: Avoid exaggeration Tell the truth. Refrain from exaggerating about what kind of a worker you are or about your experience. A good way to make sure you're not exaggerating is to cite specific examples from your work experience that applying to the description of the position you're applying for.
  • Step 2: Personalize it Let the employer know that you are applying to their company, not just any company. Personalize the letter with specific things you like about their products, services, or organization.
  • TIP: Address the letter directly to a person, not a "sir or madam." If you can't find a contact name, use a title like Hiring Manager.
  • Step 3: Read and reread Read and reread to check for errors. A spell checker can find spelling errors, but it can't correct everything.
  • Step 4: Include contact information Don't tell them you'd love to hear from them and forget to include a phone number or e-mail address. Put your contact information in the letter even if it is already on your resume.
  • Step 5: Don't copy your resume Write about the skills you have that would be useful to their organization, but don't just copy your resume. This is a time to tailor the message to the job you are applying for.
  • TIP: If you are mailing or faxing the letter, leave a space for a signature.
  • Step 6: Stay within limits Stay within limits -- this means two paragraphs for an e-mail letter and five for mailed and faxed letters. If you get the letter just right, you'll leave the hiring manager wanting to know more!
  • FACT: On average, an employer spends less than 20 seconds reviewing a resume.

You Will Need

  • Job opening
  • Knowledge of the company
  • Name of the company contact (optional)

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